Promoting Facts, Not Fears To Guide Shopping Choices

5/16/2017 10:34 AM

Whether real or perceived, fear is an emotion that can affect our thinking and decision-making in sometimes negative ways, leaving us susceptible to our emotions and reactions.  In the case of food, specifically fruits and veggies, certain groups actively use fear as their main tactic to promote one farming method over others and to influence produce purchasing decisions. These groups clearly know how fear can shut down conversation, especially when it comes to something as personal and important as the food we eat every day. 

However, peer reviewed studies show the tactic of promoting fear may be backfiring, creating another barrier to consumption and negatively impacting public health initiatives to encourage healthy eating.  One study in particular showed that inaccurate safety statements regarding pesticide residues designed to raise fears and concerns resulted in low income consumers saying they were less likely to purchase any produce – organic or conventionally grown. 

Unfortunately, this result of fear becoming a consumption barrier isn’t surprising since this inaccurate messaging has been advanced for decades, especially by groups like the Environmental Working Group (EWG) which has been releasing their so-called “dirty dozen” list since 1995.  

To help counter that fear and correct this trend, the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) went directly to consumers through a 2016 research project to determine what facts and information they find most useful and reassuring regarding produce safety.  The results of that research project are now posted on a new section of simply named “Facts, Not Fears.”  Through these web pages the AFF strives to share the kind of science and information that removes fear as a barrier to consumption and help positively influence healthy eating.

It is clear that groups like EWG seem intent on continuing on their decades-old path of fear promotion despite knowing this tactic is likely negatively impacting consumers.  However, the AFF research substantiates that these efforts can be effectively countered with real science and information. 

Facts can overcome misguided fears.  For the benefit of consumers, the AFF will continue the work we started in 2010 to advance credible, science-based information so consumers can make the right shopping choices for themselves and their families. 

Read, learn, choose but eat more organic and conventional fruits and veggies every day for better health and a longer life.

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