May 9/St. Louis/PRNewswire -- CommonGround commissioned the "Gate-to-Plate Survey" to gain insights into how U.S. moms feel and think about their food and the food choices they make for their families. More than 70% of moms surveyed admitted to having questions or concerns about how their food is grown or raised -- a number that CommonGround volunteers hope to decrease through independent third-party data, firsthand experience and honest conversations.

"As our population continues to shift from rural to urban communities, people become more disconnected from their food," said CommonGround volunteer Carrie Divine, a beef cattle and row-crop farmer from Morganfield, Ky. "This type of divide can often lead to confusion about food and today's farming practices. We're here to answer questions, supply facts on current food topics and - most importantly - provide moms with useful information so they can worry less and feel more confident about their food choices."

The results of the CommonGround Gate-to-Plate Survey underscore Divine's observations. According to the survey, confusion (and guilt) surrounds organic food, with some moms willing to pay more for organic foods even though they are unsure of what they are buying. More than 60% of moms overall -- and nearly 80% of moms ages 18-24 -- said they would buy organic meat, produce and dairy products if they could afford it, but fewer than one out of 10 moms could accurately identify what qualifies food to be labeled organic.

Additionally, nearly half of all moms surveyed mistakenly believe that organic foods have a greater nutritional value than similar nonorganic items. And not being able to afford organic meat, dairy and produce was the No. 1 source of food guilt among moms, edging out overall food affordability.

"We want moms to know that nonorganic foods have the same taste and nutritional value as their organic counterparts," said Divine. "All foods -- whether organic or nonorganic -- must meet certain health and safety regulations before being sold to consumers. Organic food is only different in how it is grown, handled and processed."

Buying local proved to be another hot food trend, with more than 90% of moms responding that buying local is "somewhat" or "very" important when making food choices. Additionally, nearly three out of four moms surveyed (74%) believe that buying local is better for the environment.

"Buying from local farms is a great way to support area farmers, but it's important for moms to also recognize that only 20% of U.S. farmland is located near metropolitan areas," said CommonGround volunteer farmer Kristin Reese. "Sometimes, it takes more energy to grow and harvest local food than it does to grow it far away and have it shipped, and it takes a variety of different food sources to supply food to our cities."

Additional survey findings found that moms vastly underestimate the number of family-owned farms (98% of U.S. farms are family-owned) and overestimate what a typical family spends on food annually (American consumers spend only 10% of their income on food). These, along with the other findings and information, are the types of food topics and information CommonGround volunteers want to engage American moms in to provide factual information.

"U.S. farmers work incredibly hard to ensure that we can produce food that is safe, affordable, accessible and nutritious," said Reese. "We apply that same work ethic to this initiative. With so many food options available, we want moms to feel good about their food choices and to know that we share many of the same values and priorities when it comes to feeding our own families."

From the May 9, 2012, Prepared Foods’ Daily News