Cornucopia’s Take: A recent survey by Pew Research Center indicates that political affiliation, along with education, income, geography, and having minor children, has no bearing on people’s feelings about organics. People who observe a strong relationship between food and well-being tend to see organics as better for their health.
The New Food Fights: U.S. Public Divides Over Food Science
Pew Research Center
by Cary Funk and Brian Kennedy
Differing views on benefits and risks of organic foods, GMOs as Americans report higher priority for healthy eating
Food has become a flashpoint in American culture and politics. In the past generation, Americans have witnessed the introduction of genetically modified crops, the rise of the organic food industry, increasing concerns about obesity, growing awareness to food allergies and other health concerns linked with what people eat, an expanding volume of best-selling books and publications about food and the proliferation of premier chefs as superstars in popular culture.
There has been a pronounced shift in Americans’ eating habits over the past 20 years with far-reaching implications for how food is created, prepared and consumed. Moreover, the way Americans eat has become a source of potential social, economic and political friction as people follow personal preferences reflecting their beliefs about how foods connect with their health and ailments, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center.
In a way, these choices reflect personalized “ideologies” that shape how people think about and consume food. They are not all-encompassing world views, but they inform key behaviors and attitudes around life’s staples.
The new food divides are encapsulated by how people assess the health effects of two kinds of food: organic and genetically modified (GM) foods.
The new survey finds that 55% of Americans believe organically grown produce is healthier than conventionally grown varieties, while 41% say there is no difference between organic and conventionally grown produce and 3% say that conventionally grown produce is better. Four-in-ten Americans (40%) say that most (6%) or some (34%) of the foods they eat are organic. Fully three-quarters of these Americans (75%) are convinced that organic foods are healthier than conventionally grown foods.
At the same time, there is a sizable minority – 39% – of Americans who consider genetically modified foods worse for a person’s health than other foods. This compares with 48% of adults who say GM foods are no different from non-GM foods and 10% who say GM foods are better for health.