Locavores Enjoy ‘Re-connecting’ With Their Food
Washington--One of the biggest drivers in the locavore trend is the desire of many consumers to “re-connect” with the food they eat. Farmers’ markets have never been more popular due in part to consumers wanting to know specifically where their food comes from and the need to make a personal, one-on-one connection with the farmer who produces the bounty they enjoy.
Dawn Thilmany McFadden, a professor of agribusiness and agribusiness Extension economist with Colorado State University in Fort Collins, has done extensive research on locavores. On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., she provided policymakers on Capitol Hill with an overview of her research on the locavore trend that continues to gain momentum. McFadden said many factors are driving the locavore trend. The desire for fresh, nutritious produce is on the top of the list.
But also critical is the need for one-on-one assurance, where a consumer can make the personal connection with the farmer. “That personal connection is vital. In an age when consumers are so detached from the production of their food, locavores depend on the personal touch. They want to know the farmer who produces their food,” McFadden said. When consumers have that personal connection with the farmer, they also gain a greater assurance regarding the safety of the food they buy, she pointed out. “They feel secure that they are doing the right thing for their family,” she explained.
Organic food is important to many locavores. But by and large, the desire for locally grown produce far outpaces the desire for organic produce. The initial results of Colorado State’s fall 2008 local food survey shows that 80 percent of consumers surveyed place a high importance on local food. The survey shows that just over 50 percent rank organic produce as important.
“It is clear that organically grown seems to be generally less important to consumers than locally grown,” McFadden said. large portion of the respondents in the Colorado State survey placed high importance on maintaining local farmland in their fresh produce buying decisions.
“As one might expect, consumers, whose primary produce source is direct from farmers, place the greatest importance on maintaining farmland,” McFadden said. Another key driver in the locavore trend is supporting the local economy. “Consumers like to know that the money they spend on produce stays in the community.”