Iowans are keenly interested in their food and how it's grown, find claims made on food labels confusing and give farmers high marks for their ethical approach to animal care and environmental stewardship.
The findings are courtesy of polling commissioned by the Iowa Food & Family Project (Iowa FFP). The annual Iowa consumer pulse survey, conducted recently by CampaignHQ of Brooklyn, queried 500 Iowans active in health and fitness activities. Respondents were primarily female, highly affluent and educated and make the majority of their household's food purchasing decisions. The survey's margin of error was 4.3 percent.
Interest in food among Iowans continues to spike, mirroring national trends. Eighty-five percent of respondents said they think "often" or "sometimes" about how the food they eat is grown. While that percentage was nearly identical to Iowa FFP's 2012 consumer pulse survey, intensity of interest increased substantially. Fifty-three percent responded "often think about," compared to 45 percent the previous year.
Iowans overwhelmingly approve of the job farmers do. Sixty percent had a favorable impression of how farmers care for their cattle, hogs and poultry compared to just 8 percent unfavorable (32 percent were neutral/unsure). Forty-eight percent had a positive impression about farmers as environmental stewards compared to 16 percent unfavorable. Thirty-six percent were neutral or unsure.
The high marks given to farmers by food purchasers has remained consistent since the Iowa FFP's inaugural consumer trust survey conducted in 2011, said CampaignHQ's Nicole Schlinger.
People most concerned about an issue are most likely to publicly voice their opinions. While these concerns may prompt news coverage and dominate conversations, they are not a reliable indicator of the moods and perceptions of the at-large public.
"Farmers retain the confidence of their urban neighbors, but that trust must continually be earned," Schlinger said.
While the vast majority of farms remain family owned, Schlinger said farming continues to evolve. Today, farms are increasingly owned and managed by multiple families, include more acres, livestock and poultry and rely heavily on technology and data.
To learn more and become a "friend" of the Iowa FFP, log on to iowafoodandfamily.com.