Locavores are changing the way Americans eat, research finds

Farmer's market

One of the hottest food trends these days isn’t gluten-free bread, Greek yogurt or even organic. According to a pair of UO researchers, the food watchword of the day is locavore.

In an article for The Conversation that’s been picked up by news outlets across the country, marketing professor Joshua Beck and doctoral candidate Brandon Reich say the desire for food grown and produced close to home is becoming a driving force in the way people eat. They say the movement is changing where people shop for food, the restaurants they visit and even what’s served in school cafeterias.

And it’s not just back-to-the-earthers or well-off city dwellers leading the charge. Their research points to a broad-based trend that’s showing up across the country.

“Our research shows that locavorism is a consumer ideology with beliefs that cut across class, politics, age and gender,” they write.

In general, Beck and Reich say locavores are people who believe that local foods are superior to nonlocal food, nonlocal food systems are destructive and untrustworthy, and local food consumption builds community. They have helped push significant growth in farmer’s markets, caused large grocery chains to start offering local foods and even brought a farm-to-table ethos to a growing number of school lunchrooms.

And it’s more than just a preference, the researchers write. It’s more like an ideology, like politics or religion, that has the potential to drive widespread changes in the country’s eating habits.

“Put another way, the U.S. may be raising a nation of locavores who will continue to reshape how Americans shop for and eat food,” they write.

For the full story, see “Meet the foodies who are changing the way Americans eat” in The Conversation. The story also was picked up by The San Francisco Examiner, Chicago Tribune and other news outlets.