2010 Food System Summit

Can we trust our food?

There’s no doubt that America’s food system is complex and progressive. The process of getting food from farm to fork is extensive. Because of its vital importance, an annual summit is dedicated to learning from and bettering the methods by which we obtain our food.

The Food System Summit addresses food animal well-being, food safety, food industry technology and innovation and nutrition and health. The highlight of the event is the Center for Food Integrity (CFI) Consumer Trust Research Survey – a nationwide benchmark of current U.S. consumer opinion regarding trust in the contemporary U.S. food system.

According to its website, CFI was established in 2007 to increase consumer trust and confidence in the American food system, with the primary mission to promote dialogue, model best practices, address issues important to consumers and serve as a resource for accurate, balanced information.

This year, the summit was October 5 and 6 in Chicago.

Summit Feature Presentations Included:
  • What Women Want: New Research about Beef Shopping and Implications for the Food Industry
  • Religion’s Role in Framing the Discussion of Animal Well Being
  • The Benefits of Modern Food Production in Today’s Economic Environment
  • Technology and Today’s Food System – Cautions and Counsel
Listen to audio clips of news interviews with summit presenters.

The seminars are thought provoking and offer participants, comprising farmers, ranchers, processors, government and company associates, an opportunity for dialogue, though what most people are interested in is the annual survey that measures consumer opinion regarding food-production, transportation/handling and other issues.

Participants rated some questions using a 0-to-10 scale; “0” meant they had no concern about an issue and “10” meant they were very concerned about an issue.

The survey was conducted in August and polled 2002 people, 60 percent female and 40 percent male, using Survey Sampling International’s consumer Web panel (sampling error at 95 percent confidence level +/-2.2 percent).

Research Highlights:
  • Early adopting consumers prefer online sources for information about the food system, followed by friends and family and their local television station.
  • Traditional media sources, including newspapers and radio, were least preferred by early adopting consumers.
  • Consumers view non-governmental organizations as the most credible sources about the humane treatment of farm animals.
  • Following non-governmental organizations, consumers view farm-animal veterinarians and university experts as the most credible sources of information about the humane treatment of farm animals.
  • An average rating of 6.94 was given to the question, “I trust food produced in the U.S. more than I trust food produced outside the U.S.”
  • An average rating of 5.31 was given to the question, “I don’t care where my food was produced as long as it is affordable, safe and wholesome.”
  • An average rating of 6.05 was given to the question, “The FDA strictly regulates the use of antibiotics given to animals raised for food.”
  • An average rating of 7.22 was given to the question, “I would support a law in my state to ensure the humane treatment of farm animals.”
  • An average rating of 6.25 was given to the question, “The use of herbicides and pesticides increases crop yields and crop quality, which means lower prices at the grocery store.”
There is less concern about food prices this year than the past two years, more confidence in the safety of food and more consumers feel that they have access to information about food origin, production and safety. 

The ultimate goal is to learn from the research findings and improve upon areas of concern.

“We are all stakeholders in our nation’s food supply – one of the safest, most abundant and most affordable in the world,” states CFI.

As the CFI continues its yearly survey and seminar, it will be interesting to witness how American consumers adjust or maintain their food-system perceptions.

*Photo obtained from www.michiganestateplanninglawblog.com

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