Does the idea of purchasing grass-fed beef appeal to consumers in Morgantown and the region? One West Virginia University student is attempting to find out.

In todays health-conscious world,consumers who are looking for an alternative to grain-fed beef that offers a different nutritional profile, as well as environmental and animal welfare consciousness, would benefit from the availability of such products,said Jason Evans, a resource management and sustainable development doctoral student in the Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences.

But, what is their willingness to pay for the specialty product?

In order to determine the market potential in this area for grass-fed beef, Evans will be conducting studies in four grocery storestwo in Morgantown and two in Pittsburghover the next four weekends.

Consumers will have the opportunity to get involved at the following locations:

-Giant Eagle, 130 Greenbag Rd., Morgantown, Oct. 26-27: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Oct. 28: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Shop �€~n Save, 889 Venture Dr., Morgantown, Nov. 16-17: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Nov. 18: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Lawrenceville Shop �€~n Save, 450 56th St., Pittsburgh, Pa., Nov. 9-10: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Nov. 11: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

-East End Food Co-Op, 7516 Meade St., Pittsburgh, Pa., Nov. 2-3: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Nov. 4: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Participants will be asked to complete a brief survey concerning beef eating and purchasing behavior as well as basic demographic information. Through sampling, each participants relative preference for grass-fed and grain-fed products will be determined and Evans, through a series of questions, will then determine their level of willingness to pay for the items.

As compensation for their involvement, each person will be given a free beef product plus a five dollar shopping card to the grocery store where they participated in the study,Evans said.

Evanss research is part of a multi-year, multi-location effort aimed at researching, developing and optimizing pasture-based beef production systems. The federally funded undertaking is a cooperative project conducted by USDA Agricultural Research Service, Virginia Tech, Clemson University and WVU .

Our goal is to provide Appalachian cattle producers with the opportunity to produce and market a specialty product that could yield larger profit margins for their operations and contribute to rural economic development in the region,Evans said.