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Eating Sustainably? Practices and Background Factors of Ecological Food Consumption in Four Nordic Countries

Mari Niva (), Johanna Mäkelä (), Nina Kahma () and Unni Kjærnes ()

Journal of Consumer Policy, 2014, vol. 37, issue 4, 465-484

Abstract: This article examines sustainable food consumption in the Nordic context, studying to what extent people in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden have food consumption patterns that are in the current discourse promoted as sustainability enhancing. The article analyses the association of sustainable food consumption to attitudinal support for environmental policy measures, interest in cooking, and healthy eating practices as well as sociodemographic background factors. The comparison of four countries enables an analysis of the importance of the national context in sustainable food consumption. The study is based on data from a 2012 Nordic Web survey (N = 8248). The results show that carrying out sustainable activities was not very widespread. Buying local food was the most popular, eating meat less often the most unpopular sustainable activity. The level of participation in sustainable practices varied across the four countries. Swedish respondents were the overall most active, Norwegians the least. However, results from analysis of variance ( anova) indicated that the individual explanatory factors of sustainable food consumption were relatively similar in the four countries. Healthy eating patterns, interest in cooking, and supporting environmental policy measures were all positively correlated to sustainable food consumption. Women and the elderly were more active in sustainable practices than were men and the young. Education and occupational position played a role, too, but their effect was not totally systematic across countries. The findings suggest that sustainable food consumption is not a strongly socially stratified phenomenon, but it is related to other practices of eating regarded as “proper,” such as interest in cooking and healthy eating. Broader and more inclusive policies are needed to better engage people in sustainable activities. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Keywords: Comparative research; Food consumption; Nordic countries; Sustainability (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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