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Poll: N.J. Loves Locally Grown Produce [AUDIO]

Phil Walter, Getty Images

“Jersey Fresh” produce is awesome and the overwhelming majority of Garden State residents want their children eating more of it.

Those are two key findings in the most recent statewide poll conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University-Public Mind and co-sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau.

Better than 9 in 10 (94%) New Jerseyans say it is ‘very important’ or ‘somewhat important’ to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables when they are in season. The percentage of people (87%) who have purchased Jersey Fresh produce from a farm stand or farmers market in the past three months compares favorably to the 83% who had purchased Jersey Fresh produce in a similar timeframe in 2010.

Poll director Peter Woolley says, “9 of 10 voters say they’d like to see more ‘Jersey Fresh’ fruits and vegetables be served with lunch at public schools even if it costs a little more money.”

Despite the positive news, fewer New Jerseyans (64%) have ‘a lot’ of confidence in locally grown Jersey Fresh produce than in 2010 (73%).

New Jersey Farm Bureau Executive Director, Pete Furey, explains “Overall, this has been a challenging year for the production of certain foods and there has been increased media coverage about tainted foods elsewhere in country. While our New Jersey produce has always been safe, we apparently have taken a slight drop in our stellar reputation due to those circumstances.”

A majority of Jerseyans (55%) say that NJ agriculture is on the right track in the way it produces food, compared with 35% who say the same for the US production of food. “We think locally grown produce for local markets is the way of the future…….. We think this bodes well for supporting the locally-grown movement, where people have direct contact with farmers who supply the food they eat.”

60% of voters recognize that Canadian geese can be a ‘very serious’ or ‘somewhat serious’ problem for farmers in the state. Overall, most (69%) support allowing farmers to hunt geese to limit the damages to their crops. Males (74%) are more likely than females (64%) to support the hunt, while the northwestern (85%) part of the state shows the strongest support. While many people recognize geese as a problem for farmers, far fewer (39%) say the geese are a ‘very serious’ or ‘somewhat serious’ problem for themselves.

4 in 10 voters (43%) say the state should encourage the conversion of farmland to large-scale solar and wind projects; 4 in10 (39%) say the state should not. The rest (18%) are unsure. 86% say farming is an environmentally friendly use of land, while only 7% say farming contributes to the degradation of the environment.

The poll was conducted by telephone from Oct. 17 through 23 using a randomly selected sample of 623 registered voters statewide aged 18 and over. The margin of error is +/- 4 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.

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