Characterizing Saskatoon’s Food Environment

Sugandhi del Canto

Abstract


This paper evaluates the relationship between in-store food offerings and neighbourhood level socio-economic and demographic characteristics in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, as well as to assess differences in fruit and vegetable access among grocery stores in neighbourhoods of varying socioeconomic status.This study compares measures of the food environment using data based on structured observations, self-reported data and measured data. A census of 116 food stores were measured in Saskatoon’s residential neighbourhoods (n=60), of which 24 were grocery stores. Neighbourhoods were assigned to categories of high, mid and low socioeconomic status (SES) based on the Material and Social Deprivation Index. Proportion of Aboriginal ancestry by neighbourhood was also incorporated into the analysis. High SES neighbourhoods had a higher proportion of grocery stores, of all store types, than mid or low SES
neighbourhoods, while low SES neighbourhoods had a much higher proportion of convenience stores compared to mid and high SES neighbourhoods. Overall in-store grocery measures did not vary signifi cantly across neighbourhood-level SES, but did vary by proportion of Aboriginal ancestry. Price and availability of fruits and vegetables varied in low SES neighbourhoods and those with a higher proportion of Aboriginal ancestry. Th is study uncovers a disproportionately high distribution of convenience stores in lower SES neighbourhoods, suggesting that food swamps are prevalent in Saskatoon and confi rms previous research findings of inequities experienced by Aboriginal people in the city. Further research, including more qualitatively-driven data, is necessary to elucidate the complexities of Saskatoon’s food environment.

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