Posts Tagged “food consumption”

Organic, Genetically Modified Food: Opinions Differ

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DSCN7077There differing opinion by Americans  on the value of organic foods and concerns about genetically modified (GM) foods, according to a new poll.

A poll of 1,480 adults nationwide found that 55 percent said organically grown produce is healthier than conventionally grown produce, while 41 percent said there’s no difference, says The Pew Research Center.

Nearly four out of 10 respondents said GM foods are worse for health than other foods, while almost 50 percent believe is no difference.  Ten percent said GM foods are healthier, the researchers found.

Genetically modified foods come from plants, animals or microorganisms in which their DNA has been altered by technology.

“The data suggest that people’s divisions are linked to their interest in food issues and how they think food consumption ties to their well-being,” said Cary Funk, lead author and associate director of research at Pew.

“Their views are not driven by their political attitudes, their level of education, their household income, or where they live,” she noted in a center news release.

Some of the other survey results:

  • Thirty-four percent said some of the food they eat is organic. Six percent said most of it is.
  • Women care more than men about the issue of GM foods — 20 percent versus 12 percent, respectively. And they’re more pessimistic than men about the effect genetically modified foods may have on society.
  • Broken down by age, 18- to 49-year-olds were more likely than older adults to consider organic produce better for health. Similarly, many more young adults said GM food is worse for health than non-GM food, compared with those 65 and older.
  • Among those who care deeply about the issue of genetically modified foods, three-quarters consider GM foods worse for health, compared with 17 percent of those with little or no concern about GM foods.

The survey also found that 18 percent of respondents are focused on healthy and nutritious eating. These people are especially likely to believe that organic produce is healthier than regular produce.

Many respondents lack trust in scientists studying GM foods, the survey found.

More than one-third “say scientists do not understand the health effects of GM at all or not too well,” Funk said. Meanwhile, “just 19 percent of Americans say scientists understand the health effects of GM foods ‘very well.’ ”


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Ethnic Cultures are Driving More Produce Consumption

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RobertaCookMany factors have affected food consumption patterns over the last 25 years.

In Tracking Demographics and U.S. Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Patterns, a 2011 report has a list that is lengthy.

Roberta Cook, cooperative extension specialist and lecturer in the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics at the University of California-Davis, writes about key trends that affect food consumption,  including:

* demand for foods of high and predictable quality offering convenience and variety;

* growing demand for freshness and foods with higher flavor profiles;

* a willingness to experiment both in restaurants and in the home;

* the changing ethnic composition of the population, which has expanded demand for Asian and Hispanic commodities;

* the growth in public knowledge about how diet and health are linked;

* the importance of maintaining physical fitness throughout life;

* the simultaneous trend toward higher rates of obesity;

* an exploding research base on the specific phytonutrients/antioxidants associated with individual fruits and vegetables and their potential protective health benefits;

* a higher public sector profile and policy engagement on U.S. health issues to the benefit of fruits and vegetables, such as MyPlate;

* and growing consumer interest in where and how food is produced.

Cook points out the changing ethnic makeup of the U.S. population is definitely favorable to fresh produce consumption, since Hispanic and Asian Americans consume fruits and vegetables at higher rates than African Americans and whites.

Roberta Cook has a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Michigan State University.  Since 1985 she has been the Cooperative Extension Marketing Economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE) at University of California, Davis.  She conducts an applied research and industry outreach program focusing on the marketing and international trade of fresh fruits and vegetables, including studies on international competitiveness, industry structure and procurement practices, the N. American fresh tomato industry, and trends in consumer demand and food distribution.She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Ocean Mist Farms and Village Farms, and served for 11 years on the Board of Naturipe Farms. She has served on numerous PBH committees and is a member of the Monsanto Vegetable Seeds Advisory Council. Other board service includes: the PMA Foundation for Industry Talent; Sunkist Growers; the California Kiwifruit Commission; and the American Agricultural Economics Association Foundation. From 1998-2003 she was a member of the ATAC for Fruits and Vegetables of the U.S.D.A. and the U.S.T.R.

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Interesting Findings on Kids and Veggie Consumption

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IMG_6871+1Looking for patterns in food consumption among elementary school children, researchers at Texas A&M University found something interesting about when and why kids choose to eat their vegetables.  After analyzing plate waste data from nearly 8,500 students, it appears there is at least one variable tending to affect whether kids eat their broccoli, spinach or green beans more than anything: what else is on the plate.

In short, kids, are much more likely to eat their vegetable portion when it’s paired with a food that isn’t so delicious it gets all the attention. When chicken nuggets and burgers, the most popular items among schoolchildren, are on the menu, for instance, vegetable waste tends to rise significantly. When other less-beloved foods, like deli sliders or baked potatoes, are served, the opposite seems to happen.

The problem has been blamed, at least in part, for the deteriorating diets of American youth.  It has also been on clear display ever since the government updated, in 2013, its nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program.  Children, suddenly confronted with vegetables on every plate (as required as part of the change), have responded not by eating them, but by leaving them on their plates — untouched.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says nine out of 10 children still don’t eat enough vegetables.

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