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"We are a business, not a social service agency": Barriers to Widening Access for Low-Income Consumers in Alternative Food Market Spaces

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Title: "We are a business, not a social service agency": Barriers to Widening Access for Low-Income Consumers in Alternative Food Market Spaces
Author: Hodgins, Kelly J.
Department: Department of Geography
Program: Geography
Advisor: Parizeau, KateFraser, Evan D.G.
Abstract: Alternative Food Networks are emerging in opposition to industrial food systems, but are criticised as being exclusive, since customers’ ability to patronise 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 consumer base for alternative foods. This research asks: what barriers do alternative food businesses face in providing access and inclusion for low-income consumers? Seven key barriers were uncovered using surveys and interviews with 45 alternative food businesses in British Columbia, Canada. The findings indicate that the barriers were 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 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.
Description: A thesis presented to the University of Guelph in partial fulfilment of requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Geography
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/8795
Date: 2014-04


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