Geography ETDs

Publication Date

8-30-2011

Abstract

This research used local produce as a way to investigate the construction and meaning of the local food environment by food retailers and consumers in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The research consisted of three components. First, the observed local food environment was defined through store surveys that were conducted in 193 food retail outlets and farmers markets in the Albuquerque study area. These surveys were performed in order to collect information, through signage and other advertising materials, about how retailers defined 'local' produce. The subsequent qualitative text analysis on these materials allowed for several themes to emerge that characterized the observed local food environment. Spatial themes included natural, political, radial and conceptual boundaries, while embedded value themes included environmental, social, economic, cultural and quality values. Second, these resulting themes were combined into a Likert scale questionnaire that collected attitudes from consumers about local food in order to understand how the local food environment was perceived. Through the analysis of survey responses, consumers' attitudes towards themes found in the observed local food environment were evaluated. Consumer questionnaire responses were given an overall score and then categorized based upon the stores at which the consumer bought produce. Third, consumer responses were linked back to their appropriate retailer category to conclude if attitudes about local produce were affected by where the respondent shopped for produce. Results indicate that there are many similarities between the retailer-defined and consumer-perceived definitions of local produce through the use of spatial criteria and embedded values, but these definitions are variable and the motivations for retailers and consumers to define various criteria of 'local' are different. Additionally, although consumers do not appear to receive information regarding meanings and definitions of local produce exclusively through the retailers at which they shop, both retailers and consumers display a need to have some sort of defined space as 'local'. However, despite this need to define a space as local, a stark absence of cartographic visualization was found within retail outlets to communicate the spatial meaning of local.'

Degree Name

Geography

Department Name

Geography

Level of Degree

Masters

First Advisor

Duvall, Chris

First Committee Member (Chair)

Zandbergen, Paul

Second Committee Member

Carr, John

Document Type

Thesis

Language

English

Keywords

produce, food environment, food retailer, "local"

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