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Consumers Prefer Local and Pesticide, Antibiotic and Hormone Free Foods
(Beyond Pesticides, May 19, 2004)
Overall, seven in ten Americans express some concern about the health risks of pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals used in food production, with just over one in four saying these chemicals pose a high risk to human health, according to a national consumer opinion poll conducted by Roper Public Affairs on behalf of Organic Valley Family of Farms.
The survey also found that:

  • Americans overwhelmingly feel that smaller scale family farms are more likely to care about food safety than large scale industrial farms.
  • Two-thirds of Americans say they would pay more for foods produced without chemicals such as pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.
  • Women are significantly more likely than men to say the pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics used to produce many foods pose a moderate or high risk to human health.
  • Most Americans report that having food labels specify whether a product was produced with pesticides, hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified ingredients would have an impact on their product choice.
  • About half of those surveyed say they would be willing to pay a premium for foods produced with humane treatment of animals.
  • The majority of consumers find it important to know whether food is grown or produced locally or regionally.

"Small and mid-sized family farmers take great pride in the integrity and quality of the food they produce. We are farming for the next generation and not solely for this year's profits. Children are our utmost concern and that is why we do everything we can to avoid polluting our bodies, our animals and the earth," said George Siemon, founding farmer and CEO of Organic Valley.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the number of U.S. farms has dropped from seven million in the 1930's to about two million today, and 330 farmers leave the land every week. The Organic Trade Association states that the organic products industry make up more than $10 billion annually.

"This survey confirms that consumers are better educated on the fragile state of our food system than our current administration would have you think," said Bob Scowcroft, Executive Director of Organic Farming Research Foundation.

TAKE ACTION: Work to get local and organic foods into your local schools. Berkeley (CA) Unified School District has taken a major step in providing children with sustainable and organic food in its cafeterias. The food policy, established in 1999, is part of an overall mission to "improve the health of the entire community by teaching students and families ways to establish and maintain life-long healthy eating habits." One major goal of the policy is to ensure that all food served by the District is "organic to the maximum extent possible."

To find out how your school can pass a similar policy, start a school garden, and/or get involved in a local farm to school program, contact Beyond Pesticides.