A majority of New Jersey voters say the Garden State’s produce is better than produce grown outside the state. According to a recent survey by Fairleigh Dickinson University, 57% say Jersey fruits and vegetables are better than out-of-state produce while 35% say it’s about the same. Just 4% are contrarian and say it’s not as good.
Two-thirds of New Jersey voters also say they have gone to a farm in the past year in order to buy or pick fruits and vegetables, to pick pumpkins or harvest a Christmas tree. In addition, 41% report that they have gone in the past year to a New Jersey farm to participate in entertainment activities, like hay rides and corn mazes. Respondents between the ages of 30 and 44 were most likely to have visited a farm, with 85% reporting having done so, higher than the 62% of those under 30, and the 67% of those over 60.
Those in the Northwest portion of the state (including Sussex, Hunterdon, Warren, Morris and Somerset Counties) are most likely to have visited a farm, with 83% reporting that they had gone to a farm to buy produce and more than half (51%) having done so to participate in a farm-based activity. One third of respondents also (32%) say they visited a farm in the past year for some other outdoor activity such as hiking, fishing or bird watching, and 14% have been to a farm for a party or special event.
“In a such a diverse state as New Jersey, we’re hard pressed to find anything that voters can agree on but they certainly like farm stands and farm activities,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson and a survey analyst for PublicMind. “People here– especially those with families – apparently see the farms as a resource, and they’re taking advantage of it.”
In fact, 63% of voters can correctly identify the meaning of the New Jersey’s green sobriquet, “the garden state.” However, the percent of voters who know that New Jersey is the Garden State because of its farms declined from 71% last year, and 70% in 2005 though is similar to results from 2004. Younger voters – 18 to 29 years of age – are less likely than their elders to know the meaning of the moniker, with only 46% correctly identifying its meaning. Respondents in the more urban portions of the state – including Hudson, Essex and Union Counties – are least likely to know the meaning of the nickname.
“In the last few years, we’ve had important news stories about eminent domain in New Jersey and salmonella in California produce,” said Cassino. “Without those stories the public has had few reasons to focus on the farming industry, and these figures seem to reflect that.”
Nonetheless, confidence in the safety as well as the quality of locally-grown produce remains high. Two-thirds (67%) say they have “a lot” of confidence in the safety of Jersey fruits and vegetables, a figure largely unchanged from last year.
The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of 701 likely voters statewide was conducted by telephone from October 22 through October 28 and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points. The poll was underwritten by the New Jersey Farm Bureau.
Contact: Peter Woolley 973.670.3239 Dan Cassino 973.896.7072
For more information, please call (973) 443-8661.