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This is old news, an infographic published just over a year ago; but I only recently stumbled across it and thought it was interesting (you can click on the image for a larger version). It was created by the US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance, and is part of their Food Dialogs series. It’s a great insight into the very conflicted consumer mind.

It shows that consumers find this whole subject very confusing. And it shows a measure of frustration on the part of farmers, in feeling like consumers don’t know much about farming, and also can have very inaccurate perceptions about farming.

But, I like that this organization (with cited funding from the Checkoff programs) is trying to identify common ground- showing that farmers and consumers do worry about a lot of the same things. Surveys like this are a good starting point for identifying what consumers feel is important, so that people marketing to them can try to address those needs.

You can see where most people struggle, though. Consumers are demanding things which increase the immediate cost of agricultural production, but which are good, ethical choices for the environment, animals, and our health:

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But the majority still don’t want to compromise on price!

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I think this is where we have to work the hardest on education- is in helping people understand the relationship between best practices and at least slightly (if not significantly) higher cost. Sleazy methods always render the cheapest product. So, consumers must fight against the urge to be so frugal that they end up promoting the very practices to which they object, when using their “voting dollars.”

Certainly many people are hip to this reality, and are quick to show willingness to pay more for foods farmed ethically and sustainably (or whatever are the favorite buzzwords of the day). But we’ve got to work on that other 64% of our population. It would be interesting to know how many of them feel they could pay more for “good” food, versus how many feel that any increase in the grocery bill is not feasible, no matter what ramifications there may be.

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