Online Program

“Treat everybody right:” Food Purchasing and Perceptions in Detroit

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 4:30 p.m. - 4:50 p.m.

Alex B Hill, MA Candidate, Department of Anthropology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
Introduction: Detroit is assumed to be a “food desert” even with contradicting evidence. With fruits and vegetables available at each of Detroit’s 70+ independent grocery stores, there remains a lack of understanding in consumer preference and perception of nutritional access. It was reported in 2010 that upwards of $200 million in grocery spending leaves the City of Detroit.

Methods: Throughout the months of July to September 2014, 73 Detroit residents participated in focus groups and group interviews to discuss food purchasing habits and perceptions of food access. Of the 73 participants, 51 completed a Food Purchasing and Eating Patterns (FPEP) survey which looked at preferred locations, food costs, and monthly income and spending.

Results: Participants identified a wide range of nutritional access points from home gardens and fishing to specialty meat markets and big box stores. However, 60% of residents reported that their main grocery store was a chain supermarket outside of the city limits. Residents reported purchasing from an average of 5 different food outlets in a month. Residents highlighted in-store treatment as a key factor for shopping outside the city with food prices identified as a close second.

Discussion: Detroit’s history of racial and ethnic divide permeates into the food system. The reports of bad service and disrespect cannot be used as generalizations, but concerns were found across the city. Food prices caused many residents’ monthly food purchasing to come from up to 19 stores. Addressing food access in Detroit requires a series of interpersonal and systemic changes.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Discuss differences between the built environment and nutritional preferences Explain where current research on nutritional perceptions may be lacking

Keyword(s): Food Security, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been researching food access issues in Detroit for the past 6 years. I have been the primary author of a number of new research coming out of Detroit on nutrition, food access, and food security.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.