Consumer perceptions of seasonal and local foods: A study in a U.S. community

Jennifer L. Wilkins, Elizabeth Bowdish, Jeffery Sobal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Food descriptors like "local," "seasonal," "farm-fresh," or "home grown" convey a connection to place and time. Little is known about how U.S. consumers conceptualize "local" and "seasonal" as applied to foods. Using a questionnaire, 120 shoppers in a grocery store and a food cooperative were surveyed. Shoppers were asked to describe the concepts of "local foods" and "seasonal foods" and to name foods that were local, not local, seasonal, and not seasonal. The concept of seasonal was multidimensional and had more meanings than the concept of local. Many foods named as local were fruits and vegetables, and many not local foods were tropical fruits. Many foods named as seasonal were fruits and vegetables, and many named as not seasonal were staple foods like meat, breads, and cereals. Locality and seasonality have specific agricultural meanings, and clarifying consumer meanings may be important in food marketing and community food systems. As the food system becomes increasingly global and decreasingly seasonal, consciousness about local and seasonal foods has implications for community economic development, environmental sustainability, human nutrition, and the operation of food markets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-439
Number of pages25
JournalEcology of Food and Nutrition
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2002


  • Availability
  • Consumers
  • Culture
  • Food system
  • Local foods
  • Seasonal foods
  • Sustainable

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science
  • Ecology


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