Grocery shoppers in Illinois and other states say they would consider paying more to purchase foods produced in a more environmentally friendly manner, according to a new survey.
Environment America surveyed over 1,000 grocery shoppers in six states, including Illinois, and the District of Columbia since January to gauge their attitudes toward the environment.
Overall, 53 percent of survey respondents said they think about the environment while they grocery shop, while 73 percent said their buying habits would be impacted if meat was labeled to indicate whether it came from a farm using best practices when it comes to waterway protection. The survey also asked whether shoppers would "consider spending more to purchase food that was grown in a way that minimized environmental impacts like water pollution," to which 79 percent of respondents said "yes."
"Farming should help the environment, not hurt it," said Brittany King, campaign organizer with Environment Illinois. "Yet pollution from factory farms too often fouls our rivers, bays, and streams. Our survey shows consumers want that to change."
Karen Hudson, with the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project and Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water, said pollution from factory farms and corporate agribusinesses is a big concern.
"Factory farms in Illinois create massive amounts of raw animal waste containing toxins, antibiotics, viruses, and dangerous antibiotic resistant superbugs," she said. "Farmland adjoining rural communities is often treated like a septic tank with unchecked manure over application, spills, and runoff into drinking water sources which poses grave danger to public health and the ecology of Illinois."
Environment Illinois released the survey findings Thursday during an event at The Dill Pickle Food Co-op, a grocery cooperative in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood.
"The good food movement has been working for decades to shift public consciousness in this direction-- this is an exciting consumer trend that our six year old co-op is growing alongside, expanding into a much bigger space this fall," said the co-op's Ally Young. "Rooting the retail side of our local food system in community ownership means accountability for sustainable practices-- in land use, labor, and access-- that serve people and our planet, not just profit."
The survey also included grocery shoppers from Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia and Washington state.