Latest Research Reveals What’s Really Keeping Consumers From Eating Fruits and Vegetables

International Food Information Council (IFIC) Publishes New Research Looking at Consumer Perceptions of Pesticides

Washington, DC, April 19, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As Earth Day approaches, consumers are thinking about what’s healthy for both people and the planet— with fresh fruits and vegetables top of mind. But despite the best of intentions, new research from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) reveals significant barriers to produce consumption. 

“Spring is the time when people are planning gardens and planting seeds; it is also typically a time when lists of which fruits and veggies are safer for you to eat start to circulate on newsfeeds,” Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, IFIC President & CEO, said. “Our consumer research shows Americans consider how their food was grown when making food decisions, yet at the same time, Americans have never been more removed from the farm. It is our mission to help bridge that gap with consumer insights and science communications.” 

Most Americans Show Interest In How Food Is Grown Yet Express Serious Concerns 

According to the 2024 IFIC Spotlight Survey: Public Perceptions Of Pesticides & Produce Consumption, the majority of Americans (91%) consider how their food is grown when making food and beverage decisions; less than one in ten (8%) never consider how it travels from farm to fork.  

Keeping food safe (70%) and the use of pesticides (60%) are top concerns when considering how food is grown. Nutritional content, use of agricultural technology, environmental sustainability, animal welfare, and farm workers welfare were other listed concerns consumers factor into their purchase decisions.  

Concerns and Myths About Pesticides Persist 

Pesticides are commonly utilized by farmers for pest control as a tool to protect public health by ensuring safe and sufficient food production. Pesticides are regulated by several government agencies worldwide. Yet it is clear consumers remain confused regarding the methods, reasons, and situations where pesticides are used.  

Many Americans (47%) believe that “organic agriculture does not use pesticides to grow food,” despite the fact that both organic and conventional produce are grown with the use of pesticides. 

Nearly 60% of Americans who are concerned with pesticide use believe consuming foods grown with pesticides are bad for their health, 36% believe that pesticides used today are “more toxic than they have ever been,” and 35% believe pesticides are bad for the environment.  

Of the Americans who are not concerned about pesticide use, 35% cited they rinse their fresh produce, and 29% “trust farmers to use pesticides responsibly.”  

“The pesticide residue found on both conventional and organic produce has time and time again been found to be present in minute amounts. Multiple government agencies confirm that these low residue levels do not pose a health or safety risk, yet consumers are still clearly concerned,” explained Tamika Sims, PhD, IFIC Senior Director of Agriculture Technology Communications. “I would simply recommend that consumers wash their fresh produce with cold water prior to consuming, to remove any remaining residues.” 

Bridging The Knowledge and Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Gap 

According to the data, when a consumer is concerned about pesticide use, the majority simply avoid purchasing or consuming vegetables (71%) and fruits (59%) altogether.  

“Low intake of fruits and vegetables by Americans is not a new phenomenon—it’s been chronically low for decades,” explained Reinhardt Kapsak. “This research highlights gaps in not only consumer understanding of pesticides, but also how harmful misinformation can further widen the fruit and vegetable consumption gap in the U.S. and around the world. Our aim is always to empower consumers with evidence-based, truthful information. We must reassure Americans that consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables—in all forms and from all production methods—is safe, nutritious, and important for their health and well-being.” 

Read the full survey here.

Research Methodology 

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) commissioned an online research survey with consumers based in the US to measure knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about pesticides and their application in food production. One thousand adults aged 18+ years completed the survey from February 9-13, 2024, and responses were weighted to ensure proportional results. The Bayesian confidence level for 1,000 interviews is 3.5, which is roughly equivalent to a margin of error of ±3.1 at the 95% confidence level.   


The International Food Information Council (IFIC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization with a mission to effectively communicate science-based information about food safety, nutrition, and sustainable food systems, serving the public good. To fulfill this mission and demonstrate its thought leadership in action, IFIC: 1) delivers best-in-class research and consumer insights to inform food, nutrition, and health stakeholders; 2) promotes science communications to positively impact consumer behavior and public health; and 3) convenes critical thought leaders to advance the food systems dialogue and science-based decision-making. For more information, visit and our resource hub; Follow us on InstagramFacebook, and X (formerly known as Twitter) and sign up for our newsletter here


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