Food, Sustainability & Locavores

I recently heard a presentation from the Hartman Group about how consumers’ perception of sustainability impacts food choices. The research was based on a substantial ethnographic study.

The research participants reported that the concept of sustainability is not some distant concept linked to carbon credits or the politics of climate change. Rather, consumers reported that their relationship with the concept of sustainability was more a matter of small choices in their daily lives with multiple dimensions.

For example, shoppers reported choosing more expensive, organic strawberries for their children since strawberries were a favorite. It was a small decision that fit with their world view. In practice, addressing sustainability appeared to be a matter of "doing what they could to help."

The Hartman Group research seems to support a major new addition to the English language and the New American Oxford Dictionary’s 2007 Word of the Year – Locavore.

Locavore was coined two years ago by a group of four women in San Francisco who proposed that local residents should attempt to eat only food produced within a 100-mile radius.

The spirit of this recently coined word meshes nicely with the Hartman Group’s findings.

To consumers, sustainability isn’t limited to environmental considerations. It appears to have a deeper concept that includes trusted, environmentally friendly, community friendly businesses and products.

Sustainability isn’t about just Green. Sustainability just might be Green 2.0.

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