Nearly half of Floridians eat more seafood than they did five to 10 years ago, but 40 percent still do not eat the federally recommended dietary intake of seafood, a new UF/IFAS and Florida Sea Grant-funded survey shows.
Floridians also know seafood is good for them, and they like their seafood caught or harvested in the Sunshine State. But many are not sure they'd know Florida seafood if they saw it, and they're hesitant to pay the higher cost of local seafood.
"We know that eating Florida seafood is important to consumers," said Florida Sea Grant Agent Bryan Fluech. Consumers want to support fishermen and the local economy, the survey says.
UF/IFAS experts say they can help educate consumers and the seafood industry to close these gaps.
"Specific educational programs could focus on developing a 'train-the-trainer' model for restaurant and retail staff," said Fluech. That's because most consumers purchase their seafood from restaurants and grocery stores, although they are not confident that they are getting accurate information from these sources. "Such a program would help these workers better address customer questions and needs, while promoting Florida seafood."
UF/IFAS experts conducted the survey of 717 Floridians in 2013, and the study was published last month in the UF/IFAS Electronic Data Information System (EDIS) electronic library. The study findings are also available in Florida Sea Grant Technical Report 205, "Seafood Knowledge, Perceptions and Use Patterns in Florida."
Fluech; Chuck Adams, UF/IFAS food and resource economics professor and Florida Sea Grant marine economics specialist; and Lisa Krimsky, a Florida Sea Grant agent in Miami-Dade County, conducted the survey and co-authored the paper.
The survey showed 43 percent eat more seafood than five to 10 years ago. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends we eat at least two servings of seafood per week, the UF/IFAS survey suggests about 40 percent of Floridians do not meet that recommendation, said Fluech.
Seafood-consumption patterns have changed in both directions. During the past five to 10 years, about 21 percent of survey respondents said they are not eating as much seafood. They cited several reasons: They think seafood costs more, and they're concerned about what they perceive to be environmental risks of wild seafood harvesting and aquaculture production, Fluech said.
UF/IFAS seafood experts also said they're concerned about survey results showing Florida consumers' don't know much about seafood, especially the safety of imported seafood. Floridians may be decreasing their seafood consumption due to these misconceptions, Fluech said.
"There are plenty of reputable resources they can use to learn about local seafood and where to buy it," he said.
Materials provided by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Original written by Brad Buck. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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