fdu_public_mind_pollMADISON, NJ - Better than four in five (85%) New Jersey voters say they would like to see more Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables served with public school meals, even if it costs slightly more. According to a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind poll sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau, support is strong across all demographics, and in fact in no category is it less than 80%. “Our support here in New Jersey for locally grown produce coincides with the national attention Michele Obama has given to improving the diets of school children,” said New Jersey Farm Bureau Executive Director Peter Furey.

Moreover, nearly three in four of those surveyed (73%) have “a lot” of confidence in the safety of the Garden State’s locally grown produce. This echoes previous polling data taken since 2006. More than four in five (83%) say they or their family members have purchased Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables from a farm stand or farmers market over the past several months. “New Jerseyans confidence in locally-grown food and their concern with safety is reflected in the U.S. Congress’s current attempt to make a sweeping overhaul of food safety laws which would, if passed, provide for some inspection of foreign food facilities,” added Furey.

Three of five voters (60%) correctly identify the meaning of the state’s nickname — the Garden State — which was meant to reflect the state’s farming interests, though results vary somewhat across groups: nearly two-thirds (65%) of those over the age of 60 know about the Garden State moniker, compared to just 45% of voters under age 30.  In the more rural southern and western portions of the state, 71% and 73% of voters respectively correctly associate the Garden State nickname with farming, compared to only 43% of respondents in the urban core of the state, 55% in the northeast counties, and 61% in the central part of the state. “Conveying this message to people inside and outside of the state is part of our mission at the New Jersey Farm Bureau,” said Furey.

On an emerging environmental issue, only one in four of those polled (26%) who apply fertilizer to their lawns test the soil to ensure that the fertilizer they use matches the need of the soil.  According to Furey, “There is growing interest in this topic. Fertilizers are expensive. Farmers use them judiciously and homeowners are encouraged to do the same.”

The Fairleigh Dickinson University poll was sponsored by the New Jersey Farm Bureau and conducted by telephone from Nov. 15 through Nov. 22 using a randomly selected sample of 608 registered voters statewide.  The margin of error for a sample of 608 is +/- 4 percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence.