Most Floridians know that seafood is good for them, they like their seafood caught or harvested where they live, and nearly half of them eat more of it than they did five to 10 years ago, says a UF/IFAS and Florida Sea Grant-funded survey. But the study also revealed that many Floridians are not sure they'd know Florida seafood if they saw it, are hesitant to pay the higher cost of local seafood, and 40 percent still do not eat the federally recommended dietary intake of seafood.
But the UF/IFAS experts believe they can help to educate consumers and the seafood industry - and lessen these gaps. To do so they conducted a survey with 717 Floridians that was published in the Florida Sea Grant Technical Report 205.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
There are plenty of reputable resources they can use to learn about local seafood and where to buy it, said Florida Sea Grant Agent Bryan Fluech. We know that eating Florida seafood is important to consumers. Consumers want to support fishermen and the local economy, the survey says. Specific educational programs could focus on developing a train-the-trainer model for restaurant and retail staff. 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.
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