Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

New Study: Americans Really Love Fresh Food, Farmers Markets

Americans overwhelmingly support the idea that government and communities should work to make fresh, local produce more widely available.

A large spread of fresh produce for sale at a farmer's market, including greens, tomatoes, peppers, and more.

Photo: peytr.rahl (flickr)

70 percent of people surveyed reported shopping at a farmer's market in the past year, though only 14 percent reported doing so regularly.

A new survey by the W.K. Kellogg foundation has revealed much about Americans’ attitudes toward fresh food and healthy eating.

The Numbers

According to the results, three-quarters of Americans support a national program that would double SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps) benefits when used at farmers markets.

68 percent of respondents claimed to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables now than they did five years ago.

And after being informed that the average family spends $35 per month on fresh produce, 88 percent of respondents said that they would strongly or partly agree to pay $1.50 more a month to guarantee farm workers were paid a fair wage.

The survey was conducted over the phone in late April, included 800 participants, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Say What You Mean To Say

It’s a little hard to know how these results translate to real-world meaning.

For one thing, the survey relied on people’s self-reported assessments of their own behavior over time and attitudes about hypothetical changes.

The fact that people say they eat more produce now than they did five years ago doesn’t mean that they actually do. And the fact that they say they’d pay $1.50 more to increase farm wages doesn’t mean they’d support such a price increase if it actually came up.

Another source of ambiguity is the absence of other similar surveys to compare this one to.

The Thoughts That Count

Still, the fact that people self-report such positivity about fresh foods and farmers markets reflects something about people’s attitudes.

Dr. Gail Christopher, Vice President for Program Strategy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, says the study shows that “Americans want produce that is healthy, affordable, green and fair. We see strong support for here for food that is good not only for the people eating it, but for the people producing it.

The reasons for this could be anything from First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, to the influence of activist chefs like Jamie Oliver, to the impact of environmentalists.

More Good News

Here are a few more statistics to emerge from the Kellogg study:

  • 93 percent say it’s “very important” or “somewhat important” that all Americans have equal access to fresh fruits and vegetables
  • 81 percent strongly or partly agree that the federal government needs to do more to improve access to fresh, locally-produced food.
  • 70 percent report shopping at a farmer’s market in the last year, though only 14 percent report doing so regularly.
  • 83 percent strongly or partly agree that Washington should shift its support from big agriculture towards smaller, local fruit and vegetable farmers

You can find the full poll results here.

Read More:

  • Americans Eat More Fresh Foods Than They Did Five Years Ago (Washington Post)
  • Poll: Americans Overwhelmingly Support Doubling Food Stamp Value At Farmers Markets (Wall Street Journal)
Sarah Gordon

Sarah Gordon has been interested in food ethics since she was 15, learned about industrial slaughter, and launched into 10 years of vegetarianism. These days, she strives to be a conscientious omnivore. Now a PhD candidate in folklore, her research has caused her to spend a lot of time in the remote Canadian sub-arctic, where the lake trout (sustainably harvested) tastes amazing.

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