- Education and Training: focus group
- Farm Business Management: marketing management
- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community services, infrastructure analysis, new business opportunities, public participation, sustainability measures, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration
In Ohio and across the region, there is significant interest in alternative food systems. Alternative food systems are believed to have many beneficial outcomes such as building community amongst producers and consumers and improving the economic viability of farmers and farming regions. Despite this increased interest, few studies have explored consumer awareness and support of these systems and especially, the socio-economic class-based motives associated with support for and consumption of local and organic foods. The purpose of this study is to explore the importance of class as it relates to support for and consumption of local foods. Focus groups will be utilized to examine the extent to which class position impacts consumer willingness to purchase either locally produced food items, organic food items, or foods having both characteristics. The qualitative information from the focus groups will supplement survey data related to food concerns to be collected in Spring of 2004 from households in Ohio. There are several intended outcomes of this study, including engagement of different classes of consumers in a discussion of sustainable agriculture. The intermediate outcome of this project for producers and consumers is a better understanding of the relationship of class with (1) support for local agriculture, (2) consumption of local and organic agricultural products, and (3) perceived needs for developing sustainable food systems. The information gathered in this study will assist farmers interested in marketing their products in new and innovative ways and it will help them identify opportunities to expand their markets into areas that may pose significant constraints. The long-term outcomes related to sustainable agriculture include improved understanding of how to improve access to locally produced foods among all classes of consumers and improved marketing conditions for producers, which will strengthen the economic viability of local farmers and enhance the quality of life for both producers and consumers.
Project objectives from proposal:
Engage producer and consumer groups to increase awareness of agriculture and the local food system.
Gain an understanding of the role of class in relationship to: (1) Support for sustainable agriculture (2) Consumption of local and organic food (3) Perceived needs for developing sustainable food systems by class (4) Similarities and differences by class.