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Research Question: To what extent does a measurable correlation exist between high schoolers’ preference for ethically labeled food products and their performance on a subsequent test on food sustainability practices?

Here are some of the terms operationally defined:

Food sustainability will be operationally defined through 5 ethical labels: Fairtrade, organic, certified B corporation, certified vegan, and certified humane.

Fairtrade: Promotes fair prices for producers and sustainable farming practices, fostering community development.

Organic: Ensures no synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs, encouraging environmentally friendly agriculture.

Certified B Corporation: Recognizes businesses meeting high social and environmental standards across their operations

Certified Vegan: Guarantees products free from animal-derived ingredients and not tested on animals

Certified Humane: Ensures animals are humanely raised, addressing living conditions, access to food and water, and humane treatment.

Current State of Research:

  • High general concern for environmental issues
    • Less focused on these concerns when making specific food choices
  • The use of ‘sustainability labels’ was low in adults in Europe
  • Labels didn’t significantly impact consumers’ food choices, which signals a gap between concern and actual behavior that needs addressing for label effectiveness
  • While adolescents demonstrated awareness and concerns about food production practices, their behavior concerning consumption choices did not align with these perceptions
    • This study was done in 2001; however, augmented activism combined with the increasing threat of climate change makes it relevant and important to study while also signaling a shift in preferences compared to the spending habits of the present dominant generation (Bissonnette, Contento)

Key study #1: Grunert, Klaus G., Sophie Hieke, and Josephine Wills. “Sustainability labels on food products: Consumer motivation, understanding, and use.”
Consumers in six European countries showed high general concern for environmental issues but were less focused on these concerns when making specific food choices. They had limited awareness of sustainability labels but could generally guess their meanings. However, their actual use of these labels was low. The study revealed that consumer behavior with sustainability labels was influenced by demographics, personal values, and country differences. Despite concerns, these labels didn’t significantly impact consumers’ food choices, signaling a gap between concern and actual behavior that needs addressing for label effectiveness.




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    This is a unique approach to discovering the correlation between food sustainability and high schoolers' preference for ethically labeled food, I can't wait to see where your research project takes us!

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