Food preferences and political ideology (or “iceberg vs. arugula”)

I published a report today based on Hunch data that examines how food preferences vary by political ideology.  It has some findings that you’d probably find intuitive (conservatives favor homey, comfort food and meat-heavy options, while liberals trend towards more adventuresome and international cuisine).  But it’s interesting to see hard data confirm these hypotheses.

I had an illustrator sum up the 7 page, 2,100 word report this way:


Conservatives favor homey staples and meat-heavy options


Liberals favor more international cuisine and vegetarian alternatives

You can also download a pdf version of the report.

5 responses to “Food preferences and political ideology (or “iceberg vs. arugula”)

  1. That’s interesting. I eat pretty much anything, and my politics are very mixed. You might be on to something here. Better not tell the conservatives, though, or they’ll be force feeding people.

  2. The conclusion of the study suggests that liberalism – for whatever reason – accumulated in heavily urban areas with high immigration rates, while conservativism was rooted in rural areas that did not. As a result liberals were simply more exposed to foreign cuisine – which tends towards healthier ingredients than the mainstream “American” food more readily available in rural areas with heavy conservative populations.

    This seems reasonable. However, I believe that this addresses only half of the cause – it seems to me that as the political process moved forward, broadly-applied terms like “sushi eating liberals” and “red-meat conservatives” became ways to distinguish – and caricature – each side of the political process, and strengthen party identity. These most likely developed into cultural norms, causing individuals to develop food preferences that both aligned with people who shared similar political views and distinguished them from people who held opposing ones.This would account for the continuation of these preferences into successive generations, where the distribution of ethnic cuisine is no longer constrained to urban, heavily liberal areas.

  3. Kelly, I love this topic and find it fascinating. Have you heard of this book?

    The Clustered World : How We Live, What We Buy, and What It All Means About Who We Are

    Market Research firms can predict all sorts of things about a person based on what they eat…like how much education they have, where they live, what they will buy, etc.

    Love your blog!

  4. Debby- thx for the book suggestion- will definitely check it out! Yeah, this is fun stuff to explore.
    Thx for reading the blog. 🙂

  5. @Rob: right on. I think where we live/where we move to definitely has an influence both on our beliefs and on our palates. You bring up great points to help explain some of the causality in the report.

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