Food for Climate League survey finds consumers interested in eating foods that decrease likelihood of forest fires or increase farmland resiliency.

September 8, 2020

3 Min Read
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FARMER-FRIENDLY CLIMATE BILL: Senate passes by a 92-8 vote the Growing Climate Solutions Act to help solve entry barriers for farmers who want to participate in carbon markets.MacXever/iStock/Thinkstock

Americans are willing to change their eating habits to mitigate negative consequences of climate change, according to new research from the Food for Climate League (FCL). The study found that 81% will consider climate change when voting in the upcoming presidential election.

The vast majority of the 1,000 Americans who responded to the online survey Aug. 28, 2020, indicated that they are interested in eating foods that decrease the likelihood of forest fires, that help the local community and farmland become more resilient to climate change and will consider climate change when voting on Nov. 3.

“Our new survey confirmed this unfortunate phenomenon as it relates to climate change,” FCL executive director Eve Turow-Paul said. The research found that the top feelings people have when thinking about global warming are: scared (36%), overwhelmed (28%) and powerless (26%).

These findings support the learnings and recommendations within FCL’s just-released report and toolkit, How to Talk about Food & Climate. The in-depth report is designed to help organizations in the public and private spheres spark wider engagement about climate-beneficial eating practices and bring food and agriculture into focus as powerful tools for combating the climate crisis. FCL said it “believes that we need to reframe what climate-beneficial eating is, make it easy to partake in and make these ways of eating relevant and accessible to all people.”

Related:Ag groups offer ways to address climate change

The survey shows that the majority of the general population in the U.S. is very interested (52%) or somewhat interested (35%) in purchasing and eating foods that help decrease the likelihood of forest fires like those seen in California or Australia, which FCL said are “catastrophic events exacerbated by climate change,” and they’re also “very interested” (54%) or “somewhat interested” (35%) in purchasing and eating foods that help one’s local community and farmland become more resilient to climate change. It shows that food is top of mind as a climate solution, with respondents ranking sustainable and regenerative foods as a top category they think could help the climate -- second only to solar and wind energy technologies.

“At the same time, this survey validates our contention that people who are excited about food are willing to eat in more climate-friendly ways, and it just so happens that these ways of eating — be it taking on a more biodiverse diet, utilizing all of what we have or exploring unique, local varieties — is also good for our emotional well-being, as it gives us more control over our food, bonds us to communities and fills us with a sense of purpose,”Turow-Paul said.

Related:House acknowledges role ag plays in climate solutions

FCL is optimistic that its approach will work if all players in the food and agriculture industry join together to reimagine a more resilient, biodiverse, community-based food system. The survey found that an overwhelming 92% of Americans are very (59%) or somewhat (33%) interested in purchasing and eating foods that help support and cultivate their local community and regional farmland. However, there’s plenty of room for education and improvement when it comes to a more equitable food system vis-a-vis global warming. Most respondents said "no" (43%) or "not sure" (20%) in answer to the question: “Do you believe that addressing the climate crisis is a social and racial justice issue?”

Founded in 2019 with a seed grant from Google Food, FCL seeks to create a new food and climate narrative that democratizes climate-beneficial eating and allows humans to tackle the climate crisis through food choices. Collaboration and research partners include the Future Food Institute, the Culinary Institute of America’s Menus of Change University Research Collaborative, Marin Restorative Communications, Datassential, FoodMinds and Google Food.

Turow-Paul said FCL exists to "tackle the climate crisis bite by bite. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re up for the job and ready to tackle this issue by joining forces with change-makers in the food and agriculture sectors. We just signed projects with two global food companies and a technology giant who see our report, expertise and approach as invaluable tools for positive change.”

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