The latest Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index® shows that nearly all Iowa grocery shoppers report their households consume real meat, poultry and dairy foods regularly; they see those foods as healthy; and many are likely to eat even more after learning the unique nutritional characteristics of those foods. The index also showed that virtually all Iowa grocery shoppers, 94%, trust Iowa farmers and are confident that farmers overall are implementing sustainable practices on their operations. The annual survey, now in its eighth year, was conducted online by The Harris Poll in summer 2021. The Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index asked 500 Iowans, ages 20 to 60 with primary or shared household grocery shopping responsibilities, about their purchasing habits and attitudes.

The latest survey found that 97% of Iowa households eat meat and/or dairy at least weekly, and nearly 9 in 10 Iowa grocery shoppers consider milk (89%) and meat (88%) from animals to be healthy options when considering foods and beverages in an average diet.

“While you can get protein from plant sources, animal-based proteins are unique because they are complete proteins,” said Ruth Litchfield, professor emeritus of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University. “They provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies need. Meat and dairy are also excellent sources of nutrients like zinc needed for growth and immunity.”

Those nutritional attributes, and others, appear to resonate with Iowa grocery shoppers, according to the survey.

After learning the weight loss and muscle tone benefits of a high protein diet, and that dietitians say the “highest quality” protein comes from real meat, eggs and dairy, 70% of Iowa grocery shoppers say they are likely to eat more of those foods. Additionally, 73% say they’re likely to increase their consumption of these foods after learning that they’re natural sources of vitamin B12 (which helps with nervous system function and brain development in children and is rarely found in plant foods). And 72% say they’re likely to eat more meat and poultry after learning that those foods provide the majority of zinc (which helps immune systems function properly) in Americans’ diets.

The Food and Farm Index showed that Iowa grocery shoppers give farmers high marks for their efforts to protect the environment. It showed that 84% said they’re confident Iowa farmers are caring for the environment and 78% said they’re confident that Iowa farmers are taking on the challenge of improving water quality.

After learning that U.S. agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions per unit of food, fiber and energy produced have declined by approximately 24% since 1990, three-quarters of those surveyed expressed confidence that farmers are implementing sustainable practices.

“Sustainability is more than a buzzword for farmers. It’s at the heart of what we do,” said Craig Hill, president of the Iowa Farm Bureau. “Continuous improvement in protecting the land and water is what will allow our farms and local communities to thrive for generations to come, and farmers are constantly working toward that. I’m really glad to see that Iowa grocery shoppers notice and have

Iowans’ positive feelings to­­ward farmers extend beyond their environmental efforts. When asked, 94% of Iowa grocery shoppers say they trust Iowa farmers. And 88% say they’re confident that Iowa farmers are caring for their animals responsibly.

“As farmers, we’re responsible for providing Iowans and people around the world with their food while caring for our animals and the environment. That’s an awesome responsibility, and it’s one that we take very seriously,” Hill said. “We’re honored to know that Iowans trust the work we’re doing, and we’re committed to building that trust through continuous improvement.”

Iowa Farm Bureau Food and Farm Index® was conducted online June 24-July 14, 2021, within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of the IFBF among 500 adults, aged 20-60, residing in Iowa who have primary or shared responsibility for household grocery shopping. 

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