Mother Natural: Motivations and Associations for Consuming Natural Foods

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Abstract. Natural is perceived as innately positive and is a widely sought-after attribute in food products. The natural food industry continues to grow in response to rising consumer demand. This qualitative study explored mothers' motivations for purchasing and consuming natural food products for themselves and their families. Mothers are an important population because of their disproportionate influence on household food consumption. We employed participant photography and a series of three weekly focus groups to derive a rich understanding of the activities surrounding and motivations behind seeking natural in everyday buying decisions. Five major themes were identified. First, natural nurtures well-being: physical, psychological, social, and emotional health. Second, natural behaves “supernaturally,” allowing positive attributes to be transmitted from the source to the recipient. Third, natural is associated with authenticity, providing a sense of trust, transparency, and control. Fourth, consuming natural reinforces the socially constructed idea of a good mother. Lastly, the preference for natural does not always translate into purchase; mothers face compromises because of conflicting priorities and resources. Understanding mothers’ multiple motivations provides deeper insight into the attraction for natural products. The findings have application in positioning interventions for more nutritional eating and revising regulations on the food label natural.

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