Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 498–505 | Cite as

African American and Latino Low Income Families’ Food Shopping Behaviors: Promoting Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Use of Alternative Healthy Food Options

  • Caitlin A. Fish
  • Jonisha R. Brown
  • Sara A. Quandt
Original Paper


Minority families often reside in neighborhoods with few supermarkets or alternative healthy food options (e.g., farmers markets, community gardens), making fresh produce difficult to obtain. This qualitative study identified factors influencing fruit and vegetable shopping and use of alternative healthy food options. Forty-eight minority women with children completed interviews regarding food shopping habits and use of and attitudes toward alternative healthy food options. Interviews were subjected to thematic analysis. Produce shopping was motivated by costs and family preferences. For African American women, poor cooking skills restricted the variety of fruits and vegetables purchased. Latinas were receptive to alternative healthy food options, but did not use them because these sources were inconvenient. African American women were not receptive to them. Improving cooking skills and perceptions of acceptable foods may be as important as increased access to promote greater consumption of fruits and vegetables.


Farmers markets Community gardens African American Latino Healthy food 



Funded by NIH Grant T35-DK007400, NIH Grant RC4-HL104866, and funding from the Wake Forest Translational Science Institute’s Program in Community Engagement.


  1. 1.
    Yeh M, Ickes SB, Lowenstein LM, Shuval K, Ammerman AS, Farris R, Katz DL. Understanding barriers and facilitators of fruit and vegetable consumption among a diverse multi-ethnic population. Health Promot Int. 2008;23(1):42–51.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    BRFSS Prevalence Data. Nationwide (States and DC)—2009.
  3. 3.
    Putnam J, Allshouse J, Kantor LS. U.S. per capita food supply trends: more calories, refined carbohydrates, and fats. Food Rev. 2002;25(3):2–15.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Moore LV, Diez Roux AV. Associations of neighborhood characteristics with the location and type of food stores. Am J Public Health. 2006;96(2):325–31.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Economic Research Service. Food Access Research Atlas. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); 2011.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Franco M, Diez Roux AV, Glass TA, Caballero B, Brancati FL. Neighborhood characteristics and availability of healthy foods in Baltimore. Am J Prev Med. 2008;35(6):561–7.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA); 2011.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Boeing H, Bechthold A, Bub A, Ellinger S, Haller D, Kroke A, Leschik-Bonnet E, Müller MJ, Oberritter H, Schulze M, Stehle P, Watzl B. Critical review: vegetables and fruit in prevention of chronic disease. Eur J Nutr. 2012;51(6):637–63.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Morland K, Diez Roux AV, Wing S. Supermarkets, other food stores, and obesity: the atherosclerosis risk in communities study. Am J Prev Med. 2006;30(4):333–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    van Ansem WJC, Schrijvers CTM, Rodenburg G, van de Mheen D. Is there an association between the home food environment and the local food shopping environment and children’s fruit and vegetable intake? Results from the Dutch INPACT study. Public Health Nutr. 2013;16:1206–14.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Pearson T, Russell J, Campbell MJ, Barker ME. Do ‘food deserts’ influence fruit and vegetable consumption?—a cross-sectional study. Appetite. 2005;45(2):195–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Caspi CE, Kawachi I, Subramanian SV, Adamkiewicz G, Sorensen G. The relationship between diet and perceived and objective access to supermarkets among low-income housing residents. Soc Sci Med. 2012;75(7):1254–62.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Treuhaft S, Karpyn A. The Grocery Gap: Who Has Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters. Oakland, CA: PolicyLink, 2010.
  14. 14.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The power to reduce health disparities: Voices from REACH Communities. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2007.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Zenk SN, Schulz AJ, Israel BA, Mentz G, Miranda PY, Opperman A, Odoms-Young AM. Food shopping behaviours and exposure to discrimination. Public Health Nutr. 2013;27:1–10.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    DiSantis KI, Grier SA, Odoms-Young A, Baskin ML, Carter-Edwards L, Young DR, Lassiter V, Kumanyika SK. What “price” means when buying food: insights from a multisite qualitative study with Black Americans. Am J Public Health. 2013;103(3):516–22.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Grigsby-Toussaint DS, Zenk SN, Odoms-Young A, Ruggiero L, Moise I. Availability of commonly consumed and culturally specific fruits and vegetables in African American and Latino neighborhoods. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110(5):746–52.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Kumar S, Quinn SC, Kriska AM, Thomas SB. ‘Food is directed to the area’: African Americans’ perceptions of the neighborhood nutrition environment in Pittsburgh. Health Place. 2011;17(1):370–8.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Strategies to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases: The CDC Guide to Strategies to Increase the Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2010.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    United States Census Bureau. Profile of general population and housing characteristics for Forsyth County, NC, 2010 Census.
  21. 21.
    Gwynn D. Winston-Salem Grocery Store History. Groceteria, 2009.
  22. 22.
    Oppermann LE. Winston-Salem’s African American neighborhoods: 1870–1950. Winston-Salem, NC: City of Winston-Salem, 1994.
  23. 23.
    Kochhar R, Suro R, Tafoya S. The new Latino South: The context and consequences of rapid population growth. Washington, DC: Pew Hispanic Center, 2005.
  24. 24.
    Bertoni AG, Foy CG, Hunter JC, Quandt SA, Vitolins MZ, Whitt-Glover MC. A multilevel assessment of barriers to adoption of Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (dash) among African Americans of low socioeconomic status. J Health Care Poor Underserv. 2011;22(4):1205–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Larson NI, Perry CL, Story M, Neumark-Sztainer D. Food preparation by young adults is associated with better diet quality. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;106(12):2001–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Dubowitz T, Acevedo-Garcia D, Salkeld J, Lindsay AC, Subramanian SV, Peterson KE. Lifecourse, immigrant status and acculturation in food purchasing and preparation among low-income mothers. Public Health Nutr. 2007;10(4):396–404.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Haynes-Maslow L, Parsons SE, Wheeler SB, Leone LA. A qualitative study of perceived barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption among low-income populations, North Carolina, 2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2013;10:120206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Karpyn A, Young C, Weiss S. Reestablishing healthy food retail: changing the landscape of food deserts. Child Obes. 2012;8(1):28–30.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Atkinson AE. Promoting health and development in Detroit through gardens and urban agriculture. Health Aff (Millwood). 2012;31(12):2787–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Clifton KJ. Mobility strategies and food shopping for low-income families. J Plan Educ Res. 2004;23:402–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Racine EF, Vaughn AS, Laditka SB. Farmers market use among African American women participating in the special supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110(3):441–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Jones P, Bhatia R. Supporting equitable food systems through food assistance at farmers markets. Am J Public Health. 2011;101(5):781–3.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Buttenheim AM, Havassy J, Fang M, Glyn J, Karpyn AE. Increasing supplemental nutrition assistance program/electronic benefits transfer sales at farmers markets with vendor-operated wireless point-of-sale terminals. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012;112(5):636–41.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Zenk SN, Odoms-Young AM, Dallas C, Hardy E, Watkins A, Hoskins-Wroten J, Holland L. “You have to hunt for the fruits, the vegetables”: environmental barriers and adaptive strategies to acquire food in a low-income African American neighborhood. Health Educ Behav. 2011;38(3):282–92.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Dubowitz T, Smith-Warner SA, Acevedo-Garcia D, Subramanian SV, Peterson KE. Nativity and duration of time in the United States: differences in fruit and vegetable intake among low-income postpartum women/. Am J Public Health. 2007;97:1787–90.CrossRefPubMedCentralPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caitlin A. Fish
    • 1
  • Jonisha R. Brown
    • 1
  • Sara A. Quandt
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Prevention, Division of Public Health SciencesWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  2. 2.Program in Community Engagement, Translational Science InstituteWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA

Personalised recommendations