Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 107–119 | Cite as

Accessing food resources: Rural and urban patterns of giving and getting food

  • Lois Wright MortonEmail author
  • Ella Annette Bitto
  • Mary Jane Oakland
  • Mary Sand


Reciprocity and redistribution economies are often used by low-income households to increase access to food, adequate diets, and food security. A United States study of two high poverty rural counties and two low-income urban neighborhoods reveal poor urban households are more likely to access food through the redistribution economy than poor rural households. Reciprocal nonmarket food exchanges occur more frequently in low-income rural households studied compared to low-income urban ones. The rural low-income purposeful sample was significantly more likely to give food to family, friends, and neighbors and obtain food such as fish, meat, and garden produce from friends and family compared to the urban low-income group. Further, 58% of the low-income rural group had access to garden produce while only 23% of the low-income urban group reported access. In a rural random sample of the whole population in the two high poverty counties access to garden produce increased chances of attaining recommended vegetable and fruit servings controlling for income, education, and age. Access to a garden also significantly increased the variety of fruits and vegetables in diets.


Dietary quality Fruits Food access Garden Getting food Giving food Low-income Reciprocity Redistribution Vegetables 


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This research is part of USDA AES multi-state project NC1001, Systems Analyses of the Relationships of Agriculture and Food Systems to Community Health and funded by the Iowa Department of Public Health and Iowa State University College of Agriculture, and Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lois Wright Morton
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ella Annette Bitto
    • 2
  • Mary Jane Oakland
    • 3
  • Mary Sand
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SociologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  2. 2.John Deere CreditDes MoinesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Food Science and Human NutritionIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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