Despite high-profile debates in the media about GMOs, organics and antibiotic-free food, the majority of Americans care most about the cost and nutrition of their food, according to a new survey by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The survey also found that Americans trust health professionals, friends and family and farmers more than media or food companies for food information.

Americans Value Affordability, Nutrition Most

  • Three quarters (78 percent) of Americans are very or somewhat interested in how the food they buy is produced.
  • A majority deem it very important that the food they buy is affordable and nutritious (59 and 57 percent, respectively). Additionally, minorities of Americans named other food attributes very important, including: not genetically modified (32 percent), antibiotic-free (31 percent), locally grown (20 percent), organically grown (17 percent), from a family farm (16 percent) or from a nationally known brand (11 percent). 

Americans Want Food Producers to Focus on Food Safety, Nutrition

  • When asked what they think food producers should take into account a great deal, three-quarters of Americans (74 percent) said food safety. Only one in five (20 percent) of Americans believe food producers already take food safety into account a great deal.
  • More than half of Americans also think producers should take nutrition (66 percent), affordability (57 percent), environmental sustainability (53 percent) and transparency (51 percent) into account a great deal.

Americans Trust Peers and Professionals, not Media

  • Americans’ most trusted sources of food information are health professionals (25 percent very trustworthy), friends and family (23 percent), farmers (23 percent), scientists (20 percent) and the FDA (19 percent).
  • Fewer Americans rated documentaries (11 percent), grocery stores (5 percent), food packaging (4 percent) and food companies (4 percent) as very trustworthy.
  • Americans have the least trust in media for food information. Only 2 percent believe blogs and social media are very trustworthy, and just 3 percent feel the same way about traditional print, broadcast and online media.

About the 2015 Science and Food Survey
The analysis in this report is based on data from a poll conducted by GfK Custom Research using the KnowledgePanel OmniWeb, a nationwide online research panel recruited through an address-based sampling frame. The survey was fielded between Sept. 25-27, 2015 among a national sample of 1,000 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. The margin of error is ± 3.0 percentage points, with higher margins of error for demographic subgroups.

Funding for this survey was provided by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs general operating revenue. No donations were solicited or accepted for the explicit funding of this survey.