Food Concerns

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People with diabetes hear from nearly every corner — doctors, diabetes educators, health publications — that they should pay close attention to what they eat. Usually, these sources of advice and information have nutrition in mind when making this suggestion. But as a recent survey shows, there are other factors that many people take into account when buying food.

The survey, commissioned by the nonprofit International Food Information Council Foundation, is currently conducted every two years and tracks Americans’ views on issues related to food technology and sustainability. As a Bloomberg article from earlier this month notes, this year’s survey shows that overall confidence in the safety of the food supply has not changed in the last two years — even in the light of several high-profile food controversies, such as the debate over lean finely textured beef (nicknamed “pink slime” by critics). Sixty-nine percent of the 750 survey respondents said that they were either very or somewhat confident in the overall safety of food in the United States. However, the number of respondents who said they wanted more information on food safety jumped from 2% in 2010 to 18% this year.

On the question of sustainable food production, 55% of respondents said that they had read at least “a little” about the topic, up from 41% in 2008 and 30% in 2007. Sixty-nine percent said that they believed sustainable food production was important, with 6% finding it unimportant and 25% neutral. The aspects of sustainability that survey takers found most important were “conserving the natural habitat,” “ensuring a sufficient food supply,” and “reducing the amount of pesticides” used.

With so much to think about in making food selections already, people with diabetes may find that paying attention to questions of food safety and sustainability is simply too much effort. On the other hand, many people with diabetes may be used to scrutinizing their food more closely than the average person, making these issues natural objects of concern. Food safety can, of course, become more than an abstract topic for anyone who has experienced (or known someone who has experienced) a bout of food poisoning.

Do you pay attention to safety and sustainability when selecting what foods to eat? If so, what factors (such as avoiding illness, or preserving the environment) motivate you? If not, why not — is your plate too full, or are you already confident in the safety and sustainability of the food supply? Leave a comment below!

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