Although lawmakers are hesitant to butt heads with the food industry or to help poor Americans access fruits and vegetables, they should take courage from a new survey of 800 adults commissioned by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Linda Jo Doctor, Program Officer in the foundation’s Food and Community Program said:
The poll data we released today at the [Food and Community] conference demonstrates that the American public believes firmly in the good food movement. In the survey they clearly assert beliefs that produce should be healthy, affordable, green (by which we mean grown in environmentally friendly ways) and fair (meaning no one has been exploited in growing and producing it).
Among the poll’s findings:
- 93% think it is very or somewhat important to make sure all Americans have equal access to fresh fruits and vegetables
- 88% would be willing to spend $1.50 more (than the average $35 per month) on fresh fruits and vegetables if paying more guaranteed a fair wage for those farm workers picking the produce
- 83% feel the federal government should shift its support toward smaller, local fruit and vegetable farmers and away from large farm businesses
- 81% strongly or partly support doubling the value of SNAP or food stamp benefits when they are used in farmer’s markets.
When asked about their own food habits and preferences, a significant majority felt it was very or somewhat important that the fresh produce they buy be healthy (99%), affordable (97%), grown in an environmentally friendly way (86%), organic (64%), harvested by someone paid a fair wage (88%), and grown in their region (89%).
The results are encouraging for farmers and activists working for a more just and sustainable food system. It also underscores the need for consumers and government to be more demanding of industrial agriculture and food manufacturing, where profits have trumped health and the environment for decades.
Ricardo Salvador, Director of the Food and Environment Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said:
What this poll shows us is that the public is ahead of where decision makers are. The public is actually demanding that the food system deliver health, that it deliver fairness, that it is good for the environment. We need to change our government policies so that we actually follow with what eaters are expecting of our food system.
The quality of our food is directly tied to the health of our bodies and the planet. The public is already stepping up to the plate. Now it is up to government and industry to catch up.
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Photo credit: Cathryn Wellner