|The article was nearly all good news. The study focused on 3 different areas (rural, urban, and suburban) and included 28 participants. Of the 28, 18 were considered "food insecure" and 16 of those 18 were "food insecure with hunger." And - perhaps the best news of all - all participants were aware of nearby farmers' markets and all but 3 had visited them "with favorable reviews."
So what did the participants say? They said a lot of the same things any other group of people (regardless of income) would probably say. They want to feed their families and they care about their health and particularly their children's health. They get that fruits and vegetables are good for you. They don't want to eat foods with pesticides. And one of my favorite quotes was about tomatoes genetically engineered to stand up to long-distance travel: "Nobody's going to buy a broken tomato in the store. They're trying to boost their sales. They don't care about people's health." YUP.
Does that mean that these folks are buying organic? Well, not really. Many were unfamiliar with the term. When it was explained, some were interested and some weren't. Some didn't buy organics because they were too expensive, and others because they weren't even available where they shopped. Only one purchased organics when she could. The rest had to settle for scrubbing non-organic veggies and hoping it got the pesticides off.
So if they weren't looking for the organic certification label, what did they want from their produce? Freshness was #1 and taste was #2. As for buying local? "Many participants had not given much if any thought to the point of origin of their food and appeared surprised by the question..." but a few DID care about where their food came from. Some cared because they figured that foods grown in other countries with lax regulations might be less safe, and others believed local food would reach the market sooner and thus be fresher when purchased. And one woman noted that when you know the farmer, then you can make sure they "didn't put any chemicals on [the food] and stuff like that."
That said, it seems that buying local resonated a lot more with the group for economic justice reasons, particularly buying directly from farmers. This was true particularly for the participants from rural sites. They liked that when you buy local, you are putting your money back into your own community. The suburban site had just lost its grocery store and they were left with limited food options. Those participants in particular were appreciative of the Amish farmers that sold them fresh produce.
Some participants liked to garden and four in particular noted that they'd rather grow their own food than accept charity of government programs. Several were not able to garden for one reason or another but were still very positive about the idea of growing fresh food without pesticides. Barriers included lack of time, skill, land, and tools, among other things.
When it came to farmers' market shopping, some had trouble getting there due to transportation issues or timing (i.e. the market occurred during the work-week), and others had trouble with the prices. One woman said "I find in general people today can only afford to eat junk food, and you cannot afford to eat healthy. If money was not an issue we would eat a thousand times better as far as quantity or quality." Amen to that.
In short, it seems that the participants of the study were pretty savvy on food issues, more or less. Obviously they were limited by reality in many cases (i.e. unable to buy from farmers markets or garden), and perhaps they haven't studied up on the numerous food issues out there in a way that makes them familiar with terms like "organic," but all in all, they get it. They know they want fresh, healthy, tasty food, and they know they don't want to eat pesticides. They understand economic justice (i.e. buying from local farmers and businesses to support your community) and they take pride in supporting their communities. And they are familiar with farmers' markets, roadside stands, or other ways to buy food directly from farmers and most have done so at least once in the past two years.
In other words, if the participants of the study are representative of other people in their communities, then the reason why people aren't eating better (to the extent that they aren't eating well right now) is probably more attributable to a lack of availability and access to good food instead of a lack of awareness or interest in it.