University student perceptions of seasonal and local foods

Jennifer L. Wilkins, Elizabeth Bowdish, Jeffery Sobal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


This study examined how university students conceptualize "seasonal" and "local" in relation to food. Because starting college often represents the first time many people assume primary responsibility for their meals, food beliefs of students are particularly relevant. A one-page written questionnaire was developed, pretested, and used to survey 166 undergraduate students from a nutrition and an economics class at one university. Students were asked to describe the concepts of "seasonal" and "local" foods and to name "seasonal" and "local" foods. Three-fourths of the students had heard the terms "seasonal" and "local," but only about one-fourth reported using the terms themselves. A multitude of meanings were attached to the concepts of "seasonal" and "local" foods. Meanings having to do with food availability or production were most common for the seasonal food concept. Fewer meanings were identified for the concept of local foods; most commonly, those having to do with local foods had to do with where food is produced. Virtually all students could name "seasonal" and "local" foods. Nutrition students were more familiar with these terms than economics students. These results suggest that assessing and understanding how people define concepts such as "seasonal" and "local" may be beneficial in developing and implementing effective food and nutrition education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-268
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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