What Do People Want to Know About Their Food? Measuring Central Coast Consumers’ Interest in Food Systems Issues reports on consumers’ interest in how their food is produced, processed, transported, and sold; and the criteria that influence their purchasing decisions.
In 2004 Phil Howard and Jan Perez conducted five focus groups and mailed a 26-question survey to 1,000 randomly selected households in San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey Counties; the survey response rate was 48 percent. The study was funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant to foster sustainable agriculture on the Central Coast as part of the Center’s Central Coast Research Project.
The focus groups and survey found that the majority of consumers want more information about how their food is grown and processed, how it reaches them, or what’s involved in food marketing. They’d like to see a system of eco-labels that would provide point-of-purchase information on such criteria as whether the workers receive a living wage, whether the animals were treated humanely, and whether the food was locally grown. When asked to rank five potential “eco-labels,” respondents were most enthusiastic about the idea of a “humane” label, with more than 30 percent citing it as their first choice, followed by “locally grown” (22 percent), “living wage” (16.5 percent), “U.S. grown” (5.9 percent), and “small-scale” (5.2 percent).