A new report shows many consumers are interested in knowing more about their food, but are in the dark about how it is produced or who is doing the job. 

According to the State of the American Farmer report unveiled Wednesday by Land O’Lakes, 39% of U.S. adults have never met a farmer, and 23% “have no idea where they would even meet one.” When asked about a set of statements about American ag production, the majority of respondents – 57% – were wrong about three or more of the facts, including 65% of respondents not realizing the average age of the U.S. farmer was 60.

The desire to better understand the groceries in their shopping carts was widespread – 87% were at least somewhat interested, 53% were either extremely or very interested – but also came with a rural and urban divide. Of the urban consumers in the report, 68% have a heightened interest in knowing where their food comes from compared to 50% of the rural residents surveyed and 42% of those in the suburbs. But almost all of those who were surveyed – 94% – said it was at least somewhat important that their food be grown or sourced sustainably.

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Millennials were labeled as the generation most interested in knowing where their food comes from (67% were at least extremely or very interested) with Gen X (52%), Gen Z (48%) and Baby Boomers (41%) all registering smaller amounts. That same generation also placed the most importance on sustainability.

But the report also pointed to big areas for improvement in consumer understanding of sustainability. When offered three true statements and three false statements about sustainability in farming, only 1% of respondents correctly differentiated the two categories.

Land O’Lakes released the study Oct. 12 in recognition of National Farmer’s Day. Wakefield Research conducted the survey, which included a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults.

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