Consumer Perspectives About Organic and Sustainable Food

eOrganic authors:

Garry Stephenson, Oregon State University

Debra Sohm-Lawson

Studies about consumer perspectives

  • Food, Fuel and the Future: Consumer Perceptions of Local Food, Food Safety and Climate Change in the Context of Rising Prices by the Leopold Center
    Rising fuel and food prices, coupled with increased concern about environmental impacts and safety of the food supply, are changing the perceptions of American consumers, according to the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture. They conducted a representative, web-based, nationwide survey of more than 750 consumers in August 2008. The survey showed that consumers are re-assessing their shopping and eating habits to cut fuel use, would consider carbon food labels as long as their costs do not increase, worried more about natural habitat loss than greenhouse gas emissions, and were much more likely to view local food as having traveled 100 miles or less from the farm to point of sale than coming from their state or region. The responses are summarized in the new Leopold Center report, "Food, Fuel and the Future: Consumer perceptions of local food, food safety and climate change in the context of rising prices." The paper was written by Rich Pirog, who leads the Center's Marketing and Food Systems Initiative, and Iowa State University graduate student Becky Rasmussen.

    Objectives of the study were to gauge consumer perceptions about:
    • Food purchases and transportation use in response to higher food and fuel prices
    • Food safety, within the context of where their food comes from and how it is grown
    • Impact that various scales and production methods of the food system have on greenhouse gas emissions
    • Willingness to pay for a food system that achieves a net reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
    • Meaning of local food in terms of distance and location
  • Consumer perceptions of the safety, health and environmental impact of various scales and geographic origin of food supply chains
    This report summarizes the findings of a web-based consumer marketing survey conducted by the Leopold Center's Marketing and Food Systems Initiative.
  • Consumer Interest in Food Systems Topics: Implications for Educators from the Journal of Extension
    To assist consumers in understanding food system issues and to help them make informed choices, educators first need to engage their interests. Survey respondents on the Central Coast region of California reported the most interest in the safety and nutrition of their food, as well as in the external impacts of how their food was produced. The results offer strategies for public issues educators to target or structure food system related education initiatives.
  • Buying Directly From a Farmer by The Land Stewardship Project
    We live in an age when farmers don’t know where their food is going, and consumers don’t know from where it’s coming. This has created an unsustainable food system that serves to reward an inefficient industrialized system of production, processing, packaging and transportation. But more consumers are seeking farmers and buying food from them directly. This type of food shopping provides the kind of one-on-one, trusting relationship with farmers that no amount of labeling or marketing can provide.
  • Ecological Footprint Quiz by Redefining Progress
    The Ecological Footprint Quiz estimates the area of land and ocean required to support your consumption of food, goods, services, housing, and energy and assimilate your wastes. Your ecological footprint is expressed in "global hectares" or "global acres", which are standardized units that take into account the differences in biological productivity of various ecosystems impacted by your consumption activities. Your footprint is broken down into four consumption categories: carbon (home energy use and transportation), food, housing, and goods and services. Your footprint is also broken down into four ecosystem types or biomes: cropland, pastureland, forestland, and marine fisheries.

References and Citations


Published January 19, 2009

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.