CSA shareholder food lifestyle behaviors: a comparison across consumer groups
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Community supported agriculture (CSA) programs are transforming the way people relate to food and agriculture. Many researchers have considered the transformative potential of CSAs on economic, social, and environmental relations. They illustrate how participants are embedded in broader political economic transformations. The same focus, however, has not been given to CSAs’ transformative impact on individual shareholders—especially in terms of their relationship to food and health. We draw together literatures from behavioral economics, econometrics, and political ecology to evaluate the potential impacts of CSA participation on food lifestyle behaviors. Using primary data drawn from a survey of four groups with distinct food acquisition environments, we compare respondents’ self-assessed food-related behaviors along three different categories: (1) produce versus processed food consumption, (2) food away from home consumption, and (3) food acquisition and interest in nutrition. By documenting between-group differences, we confirm that shareholders display significant absolute differences to other groups along numerous indicators related to the above-stated categories and in general assessments of health. These differences correspond directionally to behaviors public health officials identify as correlated to beneficial health outcomes. We conclude by theorizing how the food environments delineated by a CSA exchange relationship provide unique reflexive opportunities for participants to develop diverse food-related skills and behaviors.
KeywordsCommunity supported agriculture Food lifestyle behaviors Political ecologies of health
This work was supported by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service through the 2014 Farmers’ Market Promotion Program under Grant 14-FMPPX-KY-0072.
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