Thursday, June 28, 2007

Do Men Care?

I spent the better part of two hours on the phone yesterday with a consultant who’s been retained by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) to research methods for increasing the organization’s consumer reach and membership. A PASA committee member asked me to call the consultant, not because of my interests in wine and food or because of my involvement with local farmers markets but rather for one overridingly simple reason: I am male. Apparently, research indicates that men don’t tend to care or think much about the food they put down their gullets. In the consultant’s own words:

"The list of PASA consumer members that I have is very female dominant, and all of the names that I have been provided by others have been female. In addition, men are simply harder-to-reach in research than are women. While I recognize that women are the biggest drivers in this area (75% of food buying decisions and more apt to be like-minded with PASA, from the research), I still want to try to balance things a bit with the male perspective."

As much as I want to refute these statistics, I have to admit that they tend to ring true. A look around at yesterday’s session of the Oakmont Farmers Market registered a male to female ratio of around 1:10. It may be tempting to chalk this up to the old stereotypes of work/life schedules, stay-at-home moms and caretaking roles but I’d like to think we’ve moved beyond those narrow confines.

So guys, what’s the deal? Do you care about where your food comes from? Please, comment below. Make me a believer.


Patrick said...

The situation in my home goes directly against those statistics.
I am the one making the trip to the Reading Terminal or the Collingswood Farmer's Market each week. Occasionally my wife will join me, but left to do the shopping, convenience normally wins the day, and she'll elect to go to the local supermarket. I'll check out the ratios at Collingwsood this weekend and see if those numbers hold up.

Nat said...

It's the same in my house as Patrick's. I happened on your post right after my pick up at the Inverbrook Farms CSA. I have to say most of my male friends are the food obsessed lunatics in their families. I guess I've never really noticed this disparity of the sexes. If the weather holds out this afternoon, I'll need to pay more attention at the Kennett Square Farmer's Market.
All the best. Nat

Anonymous said...

If this is true, why are most chef's male?

Tom H.

David McDuff said...

Patrick and Nat,
I'm glad to hear of your journeys to your local markets and support of local farmers. I'd be very interested in hearing back from both of you with the observed ratios at your respective markets. One of my co-members on the Oakmont Farmers Market Association noted that she's seen a ratio of more like 3:10 at our market (as opposed to my cited 1:10). This thirty-ish percent participation rate apparently mirrors national statistics for males who do the food shopping for their families. I'm just not sure that national statistic says anything about a corresponding level of interest in local, sustainable foods....

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