Hungry for Information: Polling Americans on Their Trust in the Food System

October 14, 2015

By: Marcus Glassman, Research Associate

The Chicago Council’s Science and Our Food project explores public attitudes on food and the opportunities and risks of leveraging scientific techniques in food production.

Executive Summary

There is a growing interest in food in the United States: where it comes from, how it is made, and what it represents. Expanding markets for organic, local, and non–genetically modified (GMO) foods mirror this interest, as do policy debates nationwide on food labeling and agriculture. In many ways, however, the issues that dominate the public discourse around food are not the issues that matter the most to Americans. According to a new survey by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, although Americans do find GMOs, antibiotics, sustainability, and transparency important, they are most concerned with affordability, nutrition, and food safety.

Americans want food producers to prioritize food safety most of all, followed by nutrition and affordability. When asked which issues Americans believe food producers prioritize and what issues they believe those producers should prioritize, perceptions fall short of expectations by more than 50 percentage points on food safety and nutrition.

A majority of Americans name affordability and nutrition as very important issues concerning the food they buy, followed by a third of Americans who say buying non-GMO and ant ibiotic-free food is very important to them.

Americans trust health professionals, friends and family, farmers, scientists, and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) most when it comes to information about their food. They trust documentaries to a lesser degree and the food industry (grocery stores, food companies, food packaging) and media (both social and traditional) least of all.
Hungry for Information: Polling Americans on Their Trust in the Food System

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