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Abstract

With growing interests and concerns about nutrition and health, it has become increasingly important to understand what is preferred – extending consumer expenditure dollars towards organic or towards local food products. We address this issue by evaluating the perceptions of North Carolina consumer choices for organic, local and/or other ‘labeled’ food products. We investigate these preferences by conducting consumer focus groups in five locations throughout the state from three regions - Coastal, Piedmont, and Mountain. Forty-five participants were asked to participate in a 30 to 60 minute focus group assessing their attitudes about and perceptions of organic and/or local food products. Consistent patterns in all groups revealed that although females served as primary food purchasers, several households shared responsibilities based on their household preferences for local foods. Most individuals made the distinction between organic and local through labeling and held a stronger preference for local foods versus organic foods.

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