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Organic Food Grows in Popularity

Local Foods Making the List, Too; Cost Is No. 1 Barrier, Survey Shows

From the WebMD Archives

Sept. 27, 2007 -- Organic foods and local foods are becoming grocery list staples for some Americans, a new poll shows.

In the GfK Roper Consulting poll, about 1,000 U.S. adults answered questions about how often (if ever) they buy local or organic foods. They also dished on their diets and cooking habits.

The poll report plays up the word "locavore," which is a term that refers to people who seek out foods that are grown or produced in their region.

Poll participants weren't expected to know that buzzword. But 20% indicated that more than half of their food purchases are locally grown or locally produced.

Keep in mind that the telephone poll was conducted in early September -- prime time for summer fruits and vegetables. The results might be different in the winter, GfK Roper Consulting suggests.

Organic Food

Most participants -- all but 36% -- said they had bought organic foods or beverages at some point in their lives.

A total of 23% said they buy organic items at least weekly, 22% said they buy organic items about once or twice a month, 18% said they buy organic items a few times a year.

Those figures are pretty similar to the same poll questions in 2006. But the new poll show that people who said they buy organic foods and beverages are increasingly positive about the nutritional, safety, and environmental benefits of organic foods and beverages.

Cost is No. 1 reason why people didn't buy organic foods or drinks. People who bought organic foods tended to have bigger paychecks than those who skip organics, the poll also shows.

Who's Dieting

Slightly more than a third of participants -- 34% -- said they or someone they live with is dieting to lose weight.

Dieting or not, half of the participants said they check the fat content on food labels before buying foods. Almost as many -- 45% -- check the sugar content on food labels.

Across the board, women pay more attention to food labels than men do, according to the poll.

Most participants -- about 80% -- reported that they and their families eat healthfully and that they are "very" or "somewhat" knowledgeable about nutrition. But only 13% said they're tracking their daily calorie intake.


Home Cooking: How Often?

Participants reported eating a home-cooked dinner five times a week and eating dinner at a restaurant once a week.

What about their seventh dinner of the week? They got take-out, ate dinner somewhere other than home or a restaurant (such as a friend's house or at work), or skipped that dinner.

More than two-thirds -- 67% -- said they sit down with their family to eat dinner and all eat the same meal.

Not everyone is in the kitchen. The percentage of people who say they cook an entire meal at home every day dipped from 47% in 2006 to 41% in 2007.

But when people do cook, more than 80% say they're willing to spend at least 30 minutes making dinner on a typical night. On average, participants said they take about 40 minutes to make dinner, and the percentage of people using recipes rose since 2006.

"When people are cooking, they are looking for that quality experience, they're investing the time and energy in making that meal," Kathy Sheehan, senior vice president of GfK Roper Consulting, told reporters today in a teleconference.

Import Concerns

The poll also included a few questions about how participants are responding to recent safety concerns (including food and toy recalls) from imported products.

Eighteen percent of participants said they now pay more attention to products' country of origin, but they haven't stopped buying products from a specific country.

Another 43% say they're not paying more attention to products' country of origin. That percentage was higher -- 50% -- among parents with children younger than 18 years old.

When asked whether they thought certain countries had been involved in recent food safety issues, 59% correctly selected China from the list.

"That is a high number," Sheehan says. "People are aware and they are paying attention to this."

Twenty-five percent said they didn't know or didn't respond to that question. The remaining participants cited other countries.

The poll has a 3% margin of error.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on September 27, 2007


SOURCES: GfK Roper Consulting: "Turning Over a New Leaf? Americans' Changing Attitudes Related to Food & Diet," Sept. 27, 2007. Kathy Sheehan, senior vice president, GfK Roper Consulting.

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