Des Moines, IA (AP) Americans feel better about buying food produced in the United States than overseas and believe food grown locally is healthier than food shipped from across the country, a new survey shows. The poll released last week by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University found that 85 percent of Americans have confidence in the safety of their local and regional food systems. But only 12 percent expressed confidence in the safety of food from anywhere else in the world. It "reconfirms that consumers have more concerns about the global food system than they do about the U.S.," said Rich Pirog, deputy director of the Leopold Center and co-author of a paper about the study's results. Americans remain extremely wary of foreign foods, Pirog said. "That was something that was very apparent. These numbers are very stark," he said. In the survey, released Sept. 11, 500 Americans were questioned about their attitudes about the U.S. food supply and food safety. It was conducted online during July and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. According to the survey, 70 percent of respondents believe that foods produced locally - rather than foods that have traveled across the country - are healthier, even though there is little evidence to back that up. Pirog said he believes more research now needs to be done into local foods, both regarding their potential health benefits and in how to better distribute them. "We need to know more about the food and know more about the potential benefits because these foods won't necessarily be lower in price," he said. "If local foods are going to make up more of our food supply, customers are going to want to be reassured of the safety of these foods but they're also going to want to know the other benefits." Pirog said the poll supported other evidence he had seen in recent months that showed consumers' desire for local foods is on the rise. These include a rise in the number of farmers markets, a boom in organic grocery stores and increased media coverage. "These are all indications that people want more of these types of foods," he said.
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This story is part of Market to Market #3303, which originally aired on September 21, 2007. Read all stories from this episode:
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Johanns Leaves USDA on Eve of 2007 Farm Bill
Market Analysis: Sep 21, 2007: Erin Golly and Virgil Robinson
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