Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 921–932 | Cite as

Get real: an analysis of student preference for real food

  • Jennifer Porter
  • David Conner
  • Jane Kolodinsky
  • Amy Trubek


The Real Food Challenge is a national student movement in the United States (U.S.) that aims to shift $1 billion—roughly 20%—of college and university food budgets across the country towards local, ecologically sound, fair, and humane food sources—what they call “real” food—by 2020. The University of Vermont (UVM) was the fifth university in the U.S. to sign the Real Food Campus Commitment, pledging to shift at least 20% of its own food budget towards “real” food by 2020. In order to examine student preference for “real” food on the UVM campus, we analyzed a survey of 904 undergraduate students that used contingent valuation to evaluate students’ willingness-to-pay (WTP) for the “real” attribute. We found that a majority of students are willing to pay a positive premium for “real” food. Furthermore, we found that student characteristics and attitudes significantly influence WTP. Specifically, gender, residency, college, and attitudes about price and origin of food are significant predictors of WTP.


Willingness-to-pay Real food challenge Contingent valuation University dining Student values Credence attribute 



College of agriculture and life sciences


College of arts and sciences


College of engineering and mathematical sciences


College of education and social services


College of nursing and health sciences


Contingent valuation


Institutional review board


Real food challenge


Real food working group


Rubenstein school of environment and natural resources


School of business administration


United States of America


University of vermont


Willingness to pay


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Porter
    • 1
  • David Conner
    • 1
  • Jane Kolodinsky
    • 1
  • Amy Trubek
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Community Development and Applied EconomicsThe University of VermontBurlingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Nutrition & Food SciencesBurlingtonUSA

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