Published on 06/16/11

Consumers stretch food dollars, preserve more produce

By Sharon Dowdy

Whether for health reasons or financial ones, more families are growing and preserving their own food, said a University of Georgia expert. And consumers are using price to determine which foods they bring home from the market.

“More people are choosing to grow their own gardens and preserve some of their own food supply than in the past couple of decades,” said Elizabeth Andress, a food safety specialist with UGA Cooperative Extension.

Taste and price most important

When it comes to buying food at the supermarket, taste still remains at the top of American consumers’ shopping lists, according the International Food Information Council’s 2011 Food & Health Survey. But the cost of food is increasingly becoming as important as taste, Andress said.

“Some 79 percent of the consumers surveyed said price impacts their decision when selecting which foods and beverages to purchase,” she said.

Price helps consumers make food choices

“No other motivator than price rose so quickly over the past five years,” said Andress, who leads the UGA Cooperative Extension family and consumer science agents who teach nutrition, family budgeting and food preservation across the state.

“As consumer concerns and interests in diet and nutrition, food safety, quality and costs of goods shift, so can their interests in buying certain foods,” Andress said. “In UGA Extension, food and nutrition educators play an important role in helping people make safe and nutritious choices with their food dollars, and this in turn can help maintain consumer satisfaction with their food supply.”

UGA Extension agents across the state offer workshops on how to safely preserve summer harvests. To find a class close to you, call 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

Sharon Dowdy is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

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