MSU Food Literacy and Engagement Poll examines consumer knowledge, behavior

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Group of friends at dinner table

Group of friends at dinner table

There’s a disconnect between Americans and their understanding of food, according to a new poll by Michigan State University (MSU).

The MSU Food Literacy and Engagement Poll was conducted via the university’s new initiative, Food @ MSU, led by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

The study examined how consumers feel about food and how much they understand the food system, said Sheril Kirshenbaum, the host of Food @ MSU’s Our Table events.

From July 6 – 8, 2017, more than 1,000 U.S. residents aged 18 or older from across the country participated in the 10-question survey. Questions touched on topics such as food access, sustainability and genetically modified organisms — commonly called GMOs.

“The results of our survey reveal a large disconnect between food and the American public,” Kirshenbaum said. “Food touches our lives in myriad ways, from our health to meeting global challenges in the face of a changing planet. MSU’s Food Literacy and Engagement Poll will help us to identify topics that will guide our discussions.”

Asked about how often they think they consume GMOs, 19 percent of responders said every day. More than a quarter were unsure.

Sixty-six percent indicated that labeling was influential in their food purchasing decisions.

More than half — 51 percent — said they would be willing to pay a higher price for food if they knew its production had a less-damaging impact on the environment.

When it came to faith in researchers studying food, 59 percent said they trust academic scientists, 49 percent trust government scientists, and just 33 percent trust industry scientists.

To view the entire survey and for more information about the polling methodology, visit