Generic food vendor. (Photo by © Can Stock Photo / Krasnevsky).

OFA’s Food Literacy Project

A report on food literacy states messages and the medium have to change.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture released results from its Food Literacy Attitude and Awareness Research Project.

It was put together to gain a better understanding of the current state of food literacy among Ontario consumers, and use the insights to guide future programs, resources and information.

The OFA along with several other groups including the Nutrition Resource Centre, Ontario Public Health Association, Ontario Home Economics Association, AgScape, and Farm and Food Care Ontario, surveyed three distinct consumer groups to measure their level of food literacy and provide baseline information.

OFA president Keith Currie says they wanted to gauge the current knowledge level of parents with kids at home, teenagers and early millennials. Adding that food literacy is a timely topic and is so tied with public health.

The project included two in-person focus groups to gather qualitative information on food literacy that was used to gather 1,003 online surveys for quantitative information on local food, meal planning, purchasing, preparation and consumption in the home, and information sources used by consumers.

According to the study results, the current ways of reaching teenagers with food literacy messages are not effective or impactful.

Dietitians generally target their messages to parents and should revise their messages and focus to target teens directly.

Most food skills are learned at home, passed from parent to child, making it vital that parents are comfortable with food preparation and have a good knowledge and understanding of health and nutrition.

Other study highlights include:
· nearly 25% of all respondents didn’t know any of the food groups
· millennials seek health and nutrition information from a wide variety of sources, compared to other consumer groups surveyed
· less than 50% of parents surveyed know the safe cooking temperatures for a variety of meat and poultry items
· overall, there is a clear understanding of local food products but not of farming practices or food production
· local food knowledge does not differ significantly depending on where the respondents live (rural, urban, suburban)

The complete Food Literacy Attitude and Awareness Research Project report is available at ofa.on.ca.