Moms aren’t always right when it comes to the grocery store, according to a new survey of more than 1,000 mothers. Instead, the survey found that moms are often misinformed, especially when buying “all-natural” and “hormone-free” products.
Among the misconceptions, the survey found that many moms:
- Are willing to spend more for hormone-free poultry and pork: More than half of moms agree that it’s important to feed their families hormone-free poultry and pork. However, the USDA prohibits farmers from using hormones to raise these species.
- Reach for “all natural” products: Fifty-three percent of moms surveyed find that it’s important to purchase food labeled “all-natural." An “all natural” label does not include standards regarding farm practices and only applies to processing of meat and egg products. It doesn’t connote nutritional benefits. Consumer Reports covered the issue in 2008, suggesting that not all natural ingredients are benign.
- Think that family farms are dying: Seven out of 10 moms in the survey think that family farms are dying. Seventy percent also believe that farmers should be a key resource for those seeking information related to food and/or farming, but four out of five moms don’t seek information from farmers. Between 96 and 98 percent of the 2.2 million farms across the country are family farms. For more information, see the USDA's Family Farms Overview.
- Incorrectly defined organic production: Eighty-four percent think that the organic food is farmed without the use of any pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides. Half of the moms believe that organic is nutritionally better than non-organic foods. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) points that “current evidence does not support any meaningful nutritional benefits or deficits from eating organic compared with conventionally grown foods, and there are not well-powered human studies that directly demonstrate health benefits or disease protection as a result of consuming an organic diet.” The AAP released similar findings in 2012 in a report suggesting that organic milk may have no significant health advantages over conventional milk.
- Fear GMOs: Three-quarters of the moms surveyed questioned the safety of GMO foods, while nearly half of the survey participants consider GMOS foods has nutritionally and chemically different than non-GMO food. Modern biotech crops have been commercially grown for more than 12 years, and there has not been a single documented case of an ecosystem disrupted or a person made ill. Most noticeably, earlier this year one of the founders of the anti-GMO movement announced that he was wrong about GMOs. See, “‘I was wrong about GMOs,’ environmentalist tells UK conference.”
- Believe that local is better: More than half of the moms say locally-produced foods are always better for the environment. In some situations can take more energy to grow and harvest local food than it does it grow it far away and have it shipped. The U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance offers advice for when buying local is and is not the best choice. Read more.
The “Gate-to-Plate” survey was commissioned by CommonGround, a grassroots coalition of women farmers who want to foster conversations among women in both farms and cities about where food comes from and how it is raised.
While the survey results may or may not be surprising to most farmers and ranchers, it can also provide conversation starters for producers ready to reach out of shoppers. In a recent blog post, farm wife and agriculture advocate Katie Olthoff looked at ways to conquer this misinformation. Read the blog.