Regular readers of MUNCHIES will have followed a lively, ongoing conversation concerning the choices we make in terms of the food we consume and how it's produced.
Maybe GMOs, conscientious carnivorism, and healthy eating are things that interest you deeply, and that's why you like reading about food. But there are just as many people who couldn't care much less about what they stuff their faces with. If the election painted a vivid picture of an intensely divided America, a new massive report from the PEW Research Center shows there's an equally deep divide over food.
"Food has become a flashpoint in American culture and politics," the report reads. "In the past generation, Americans have witnessed the introduction of genetically modified crops, the rise of the organic food industry, increasing concerns about obesity, growing awareness to food allergies and other health concerns linked with what people eat, an expanding volume of best-selling books and publications about food and the proliferation of premier chefs as superstars in popular culture."
For their report, PEW surveyed 1,480 American adults and came back with mountains of data relating to American's ideologies relating to food. Some takeaways are pretty general: Fifty-five percent of adults think organic produce is better for health than conventionally grown produce while 41 percent think it's neither better nor worse (3 percent believe it is worse); 39 percent think genetically modified foods are worse than non-GM foods, ten percent think they are better, and 48 percent think it's all the same.
But within those groups even more interesting data emerges. For instance, women are more likely to care more about GM foods, with 20 percent of women reporting they "care deeply," compared with 12 percent of men. Across sexes, 35 percent of those who are very concerned with matters of GM foods say they trust information from scientists regarding the safety of these foods a great deal, while only 10 percent say they trust food industry leaders. Even half of those who care deeply about their food think that scientific findings relating to GM foods "are influenced by the researchers' desires to help their industries 'most of the time.'"
And attitudes toward food don't depend upon whether you're a Democratic or a Republican, a holder of a high-school diploma or a college graduate.
"The divides over food do not fall along familiar political fault lines. Nor do they strongly tie to other common divisions such as education, income, geography or having minor children."
While stats regarding GM foods show attitudes vary greatly about agricultural science, there are more basic takeaways. Eighteen percent of people reported that the statement "my main focus is on eating healthy and nutritious" when it comes to food described them very well, while another 55 percent said that it described them fairly well.
That left a full 25 percent who said that the statement described them "not too well/not at all well." Whatever, man. Pass the chili cheese fries.
On one hand, Americans are pretty split over food. But in our country, so deeply divided in other ways, it's interesting to know a quarter of Americans throw caution to the wind and eat whatever they damn well please regardless of their political views (with the rest of us "trying" to maintain some semblance of a healthy diet, to varying degrees).
Perhaps we have more in common with one another than we thought after all.