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Perceptions and Motivations of Conscious Consumption
AuthorZoll, Andrew K.
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In today’s industrialized world, efforts in environmental sustainability are at the forefront of many social and political issues. Perhaps the most familiar and accessible avenue toward “green” behavior in the eyes of the average American consumer is through the purchase and consumption of ethical food products. This study sought to identify the overarching trends in consumer perceptions of “organic”, “local”, and “fair-trade” food (Long, 2010), as well as consumer perceptions of the stores in which they are sold. An understanding of the outside social, cultural, or economic factors that work with or against such perceptions in forming motivation toward sustainable consumer behavior in Reno, Nevada was another goal. Through the administration of surveys and interviews to individuals at a local food cooperative and on the University of Nevada, Reno campus, it was found that (1) a concern for personal, environmental, and social wellness, (2) extent of individual economic concerns, and (3) a general awareness of what the organic, local, and fair-trade food movements each entail determined consumers’ level of engagement with conscious consumption. Conceptions of these food movements as either individual or collective activities tended to inform consumer perceptions of store roles in said movements. As conscious food consumption encapsulates a wide array of positive and environmental, social, and nutritional dimensions, a critical anthropological understanding of consumer situatedness within the organic, local, and fair-trade food movements is crucial in furthering the sustainable goals of these alternative food systems.