(Posted Wed. May 9th, 2012)
May 9: CommonGround, a volunteer group of farm women dedicated to creating conversations around farming and food, wants to help moms looking for information on some of the most common questions about food. To do so, the group, which was developed through a partnership between the National Corn Growers Association and the United Soybean Board, commissioned the Gate-to-Plate Survey to gain insights into how U.S. moms feel and think about their food and the food choices they make for their families.
Overall, the study showed that more than 70 percent of moms have questions or concerns about how their food is grown or raised. Through honest conversations in which volunteer farmers share their own experiences and by providing independent scientific data from reputably third-parties, they hope to offer the information that they need to feel confident in their food choices.
“As our population continues to shift from rural to urban communities, people become more disconnected from their food,” said CommonGround volunteer Carrie Divine, a beef cattle and row-crop farmer from Morganfield, Ky. “This type of divide can often lead to confusion about food and today’s farming practices. We’re here to answer questions, supply facts on current food topics and – most importantly – provide moms with useful information so they can worry less and feel more confident about their food choices.”
Guilt and Confusion around Organic Foods
The results of the CommonGround Gate-to-Plate Survey underscore Divine’s observations. According to the survey, confusion (and guilt) surrounds organic food, with some moms willing to pay more for organic foods even though they are unsure of what they are buying. More than 60 percent of moms overall – and nearly 80 percent of moms ages 18 to 24 – said they would buy organic meat, produce and dairy products if they could afford it, but fewer than one out of 10 moms could accurately identify what qualifies food to be labeled organic.
Additionally, nearly half of all moms surveyed mistakenly believe that organic foods have a greater nutritional value than similar nonorganic items. And not being able to afford organic meat, dairy and produce was the No. 1 source of food guilt among moms – edging out overall food affordability.
“We want moms to know that nonorganic foods have the same taste and nutritional value as their organic counterparts,” said Divine. “All foods – whether organic or nonorganic – must meet certain health and safety regulations before being sold to consumers. Organic food is only different in how it is grown, handled and processed.”
Buying into “Buying Local”
Buying local proved to be another hot food trend, with more than 90 percent of moms responding that buying local is “somewhat” or “very” important when making food choices. Additionally, nearly three out of four moms surveyed (74 percent) believe that buying local is better for the environment.
“Buying from local farms is a great way to support area farmers, but it’s important for moms to also recognize that only 20 percent of U.S. farmland is located near metropolitan areas,” said CommonGround volunteer farmer Kristin Reese. “Sometimes it takes more energy to grow and harvest local food than it does to grow it far away and have it shipped, and it takes a variety of different food sources to supply food to our cities.”
Myths About Food Costs and the Modern Family Farmer
Additional survey findings found that moms vastly underestimate the number of family-owned farms (98 percent of U.S. farms are family-owned) and overestimate what a typical family spends on food annually (American consumers spend only 10 percent of their income on food). These, along with the other findings and information, are the types of food topics and information CommonGround volunteers want to engage American moms in to provide factual information.
“U.S. farmers work incredibly hard to ensure that we can produce food that is safe, affordable, accessible and nutritious,” said Reese. “We apply that same work ethic to this initiative. With so many food options available, we want moms to feel good about their food choices and to know that we share many of the same values and priorities when it comes to feeding our own families.”
For more information about how food is grown or raised or to ask a question, CommonGround provides a variety of interactive resources:
Twitter Hashtag: #CGConvo
CommonGround is a grass-roots movement to foster conversation among women – on farms and in cities – about where our food comes from. CommonGround was developed by the United Soybean Board (USB) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) in an effort to give farm women the opportunity to speak with consumers using a wide range of activities. USB and NCGA provide support and a platform for the volunteers to tell their stories.
About the CommonGround Farm-to-Fork Survey
The CommonGround Farm-to-Fork Survey was conducted online with a random sample of 1,061 mothers, age 18+, who have a child(ren) in the home age 17 and under – all members of the Impulse Research proprietary online panel. The Impulse Research proprietary online panel has been carefully selected to closely match U.S. population demographics, and the respondents are representative of American mothers, age 18+, who have a child(ren) in the home aged 17 and under. Impulse Research conducted the survey in March 2012. The overall sampling error rate for this survey is +/-3 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.