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Remembering Kevin Moore

Farmer’s Market Survey On Healthy Fats Nets Some Rather Surprising Results

A stunning nine out of ten survey participants at a weekend farmer’s market declared coconut oil as a “healthy fat” despite a USA Today story last week stating it’s never been healthy. That was one of several surprising results of an informal survey of 32 people who filled out the survey taken on Saturday, June 17, 2017 at the Hub City Farmer’s Market in Spartanburg, South Carolina. My wife Christine is currently a student of the Nutritional Therapy Association (NTA) in pursuit of becoming a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP) later this year and she’s now about halfway finished with completing the intensive nine-month program that most notably teaches students the importance of consuming saturated fats, for example, in optimal health. One of Christine’s study assignments was to do a Community Outreach Project and she decided to represent the NTA at our local farmer’s market offering information about this real foods-based nutrition education program. But she thought it would be interesting to gauge what people who visit the farmer’s market think is “healthy” when it comes to dietary fats and so she crafted a survey asking people about this with prize package giveaways to encourage participation.

The survey simply asked “Which of the following are healthy fats?” with a list of fats including butter, margarine, canola oil/vegetable oil, coconut oil, and lard. They were encouraged to check all that apply. As they filled out the survey, Christine was telling them more about the NTA and her NTP studies.

Here are some of the more fascinating survey results:

– Nearly double viewed coconut oil as healthy (88%) compared with butter (47%)
– Almost three times as many people saw butter as healthy (47%) compared with lard (19%)
– Over four times as many people said vegetable oil is healthy (38%) compared with margarine (9%) even though they’re basically the same thing
– Close to nine out of 10 respondents (88%) positively viewed coconut oil as healthy; butter was next at nearly half of respondents (47%) seeing it as healthy
– Six percent of the responses didn’t think any of the fats listed were healthy at all
– Coconut oil, butter, and vegetable oils were considered the top three healthy fats by the respondents

The commentary volunteered by some of the mostly female (84%) survey participants was rather curious as well. One lady who only checked coconut oil as a healthy fat emphatically stated “definitely not lard.” Another elderly woman in a hat said “none of these are healthy” while yet another woman who wrote “none” on her survey mumbled as she was walking away “if I had to choose one, it would be margarine”…a clear indication of the fat-phobia that still exists among some. One of the more humorous responses was from a 20-something year old male who checked canola oil/vegetable oil “since it has vegetables in it.” Finally, a female responder who marked butter, coconut oil, and lard noted that they needed to be the “pure” kind from grass-fed animals and organic sources. Fascinating stuff!

Christine also gauged interest in the NTA with the survey and two-thirds (66%) of them were interested in learning more about becoming an NTP student. In fact, one of the women who filled out the survey and who correctly checked butter, coconut oil, and lard as the healthy fats said she’s been saving her money to become a student following the birth of her second child last month. It was exciting to hear what real people think about what healthy fats are and I told Christine it would be a fun follow-up experiment to do this same survey at the local flea market where the demographic is quite different than the farmer’s market. If we do that survey, I’ll let you know. What do you think of the results? Surprising to you or what you expected? Please share your thoughts below.

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