"We are a business, not a social service agency." Barriers to widening access for low-income shoppers in alternative food market spaces
- 1.3k Downloads
Alternative food networks are emerging in opposition to industrial food systems, but are criticized as being exclusive, since customers’ ability to patronize these market spaces is premised upon their ability to pay higher prices for what are considered the healthiest, freshest foods. In response, there is growing interest in widening the demographic profile given access to these alternative foods. This research asks: what barriers do alternative food businesses face in providing access and inclusion for low income consumers? Surveys and interviews with 45 alternative food businesses in British Columbia, Canada uncovered five key barriers. The findings indicate that the barriers are symptomatic of structural issues in the Canadian food and social welfare systems. Although opportunities exist for business operators to widen access for low income shoppers, these alone cannot meaningfully ameliorate food-access inequality. Rather, these barriers underscore issues of income-disparity, poverty, and food-access inequality more broadly, and require structural and societal change to rectify.
KeywordsFood justice Food security Farmers’ markets Poverty Food access Alternative food networks
Alternative food network
British Columbia, Canada
Corporate social responsibility
British Columbia Association of Farmers Markets Nutrition Coupon Program
Sincere gratitude to Dr. Kate Parizeau for her generous and thoughtful contributions and critiques in shaping this research.
- Alkon, Alison Hope. 2012. Black, white, and green: Farmers markets, race, and the green economy. Athens: University of Georgia Press.Google Scholar
- Armitage, Thomas. 2015. The impact and potential roles of Community Food Centres on local food distribution in the Southwestern Ontario context. Master’s thesis, Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph.Google Scholar
- BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. 2013. Farmers’ market nutrition coupon program: Program results. https://bcafm.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/program-results-_-fmncp.pdf. Accessed 25 October 2014.
- Beagan, B.L., and G.E. Chapman. 2012. Constructing “healthy eating”/constructing self. In Critical perspectives in food studies, ed. M. Koç, J. Sumner, and A. Winson, 136–151. Don Mills: Oxford University Press Canada.Google Scholar
- Bowen, H.R. 1953. Social responsibilities of the businessman. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
- Dimitri, C., L. Oberholtzer, M. Zive, and C. Sandolo, 2014. Enhancing food security of low-income consumers: An investigation of financial incentives for use at farmers markets. Food Policy 52(2015): 64–70.Google Scholar
- European Commission. 2001. Green paper: Promoting a European framework for corporate social responsibility. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_DOC-01-9_en.pdf. Accessed 20 October 2016.
- Feeding America. 2014. Annual report: Bringing hope to 46 million people. http://www.feedingamerica.org/about-us/about-feeding-america/annual-report/2014-feeding-america-annual-report.pdf?s_src=W175DIRCT&s_subsrc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.feedingamerica.org%2Fabout-us%2Fabout-feeding-america%2Fannual-report%2F. Accessed 13 April 2017.
- Food Banks Canada. 2016. Hungercount 2016. https://www.foodbankscanada.ca/getmedia/6173994f-8a25-40d9-acdf-660a28e40f37/HungerCount_2016_final_singlepage.pdf. Accessed 5 April 2017.
- Friedman, Milton. 1970. A Friedman doctrine: The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. The New York Times Magazine 32–33: 122–125.Google Scholar
- Johnston, J., and S. Cappeliez. 2012. You are what you eat: Enjoying (and transforming) food culture. In Critical perspectives in food studies, ed. M. Koç, J. Sumner, and A. Winson, 49–64. Don Mills: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Kennedy, E.H., and C.S. Sprague. 2016. The cultural politics of alternative food movements: The limitations of cultivating awareness. In Conversations in food studies: Transgressing boundaries through critical inquiry, ed. C. Anderson, J. Brady, and C.Z. Levkoe. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press.Google Scholar
- Moir, L. 2010. What do we mean by corporate social responsibility? Corporate Governance: The International Journal of Business in Society 1(22): 16–22.Google Scholar
- Ohberg, L. 2012. What’s stopping us? Identifying barriers to the local food movement using Ontario, Canada as a case study. Master’s thesis, Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto, Toronto.Google Scholar
- Poppendieck, J. 1998. Sweet charity? Emergency food and the end of entitlement. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
- Saul, N., and A. Curtis. 2013. The stop: How the fight for good food transformed a community and inspired a movement. Toronto: Random House Canada.Google Scholar
- SPARC BC. 2014. Who gets sustenance? Community voices speak about access to local, healthy food. http://www.sparc.bc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/who-gets-sustenance.pdf. Accessed 5 December 2014.
- Winne, M. 2008. Closing the food gap: Resetting the table in the land of plenty. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
- Winson, A. 2013. The industrial diet. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar