The Arugula Wars, Take 2

November 15, 2009
By

Photo by Guy Hand

Photo by Guy Hand

Thanks to Chris Oates at TreasuredValley.com, who pointed this study out to me, here are some additional and very interesting statistics to expand on the recent NPR story I did called “The Arugula Wars” on the question of whether conservatives and liberals eat differently.   According to the report, they certainly do.

Here’s a summary of the findings:

  • The data in this report shows a consistent pattern for conservatives to trend towards “homey”, familiar, comfort foods and meat-heavy options. They are more likely than liberals to indulge in fast food and enjoy splurges like cheeseburgers, hot dogs, deep dish pizza and sugar soda. Their idea of international food is a “mainstream” option such as Italian.
  • Liberals are more likely to be adventuresome eaters, choosing international options such as Japanese or Thai. They eat fast food less frequently than conservatives, and when they do splurge on fast food they have a tendency to favor specialty, regional chains. Liberals are more likely to be vegetarians and to choose healthier options such as whole grain bread, darker greens of lettuce, and more frequent servings of fruit.

And here are some responses to the report’s questionnaire:

  • Style of kitchen: Conservatives are twice as likely to choose a country-style kitchen.  Liberals prefer modern-style kitchens.
  • Lunch: Conservatives prefer pizza and mac & cheese.  Liberals prefer Thai or Indian food.
  • Dinner: Conservatives prefer fried chicken, meatloaf or steak.  Liberals prefer green curry, Ethiopian dishes and veggie burgers.
  • Fast food restaurants: Conservatives said they were 63% more likely to eat at one “at least a few times per week.”  Liberals said they were 92% more likely to eat at one “rarely or never.”
  • Cheese varieties: Conservatives said they like Velveeta and colby.  Liberals said they like brie.
  • Vegetarian? 3% of conservatives polled were vegetarian or vegan.  11% of liberals polled were vegetarian or vegan.
  • Pizza toppings: 73% of conservatives were more likely to say “meat, and lots of it.”  87% of liberals were more likely to say “veggies only.”
  • Portion size and presentation: 26% of conservatives said they were more likely to prefer “bigger portion, plainly arranged.”  40% of liberals were more likely to prefer “smaller portion, artfully presented and garnished.”

I found this response intriguing:

  • When shown a picture of an apple corer: 71% of conservatives were more likely to both have one and use it.  Liberals were 15% more likely to “have no clue” what this is.

And, of course, the most compelling question:

  • Iceberg or arugula?: Conservatives were 55% more likely to prefer iceberg.  Liberals were more than twice as likely to prefer arugula.

“How Food Preferences Vary by Political Ideology” is a report by the website Hunch looking at differences in food choices made by self-described conservatives and liberals.  Data was collected from some 64,000 people between April 2009 and November 2009.

About Guy Hand:
Guy Hand is a writer, public radio producer and photographer specializing in food and agriculture.
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