Our daily food choices have a huge impact on the environment. However, most consumers are not aware of the environmental impact of food production and consumption. Since there is no valid and reliable measure of knowledge regarding food’s environmental impact, a 16-item multiple-choice knowledge questionnaire was developed. An example item reads: “Which of the following meals is the most climate friendly?” – Organic beef burger, Organic salmon burger, Quinoa burger, Do not know. The knowledge questionnaire was tested in a Swiss and German consumer sample (total N = 1810) and meets standard psychometric criteria. It showed good internal consistency across the adult samples. Validity was supported by small to medium-sized positive correlations with constructs of environmental (e.g., environmental apathy) and food (e.g., perceived environmentally friendly food purchasing behavior) attitudes. By using a food buffet made of replica food items, it was shown that consumers with higher knowledge scores are better able to compose lunch menus with a lower environmental footprint. The new scale will help to identify potential areas of misconceptions in people’s understanding of the environmental friendliness of foods and in what respect a lack of knowledge poses a barrier to behavioral change. It also enables research into the efficacy of educational measures such as campaigns and decision aids for sustainable food consumption.
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