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International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Published by Michigan State University

Official publication of the Research Committee on Sociology of Agriculture and Food (RC-40)
of the International Sociological Association (ISA)

Editors: Raymond Jussaume, Claire Marris and Katerina Psarikidou

Frequency: 3 issues per year 
ISSN: 0798-1759

Volume 25, Issue 2 (2019)

Varying Food Practices Among Three Low-Income Groups in the Northeastern United States:

Rural, Homeless & Refugee                                                                                                                                             138-151

Author: Amy Redman

Affiliation: Sociology and Anthropology Department, Middlebury College, Middlebury, Vermont, USA

Abstract            PDF


The purpose of this research is to gain an in-depth understanding of low-income food practices among groups at or below the poverty line, to include: a rural group, a homeless group, and a refugee group. To explore how food practices differ among the low-income groups, an ethnographic design was used, including 60 hours of observations in group venues and individual/family homes, and 22 semi-structured interviews, conducted in the Northeastern United States. The findings from this study suggest that each low-income group has distinct food practices and consumption patterns. The following paper describes three main characteristics found within each group: 1) time spent preparing and eating food, 2) food item types, and 3) cooking skills. This research adds to the growing body of literature showing heterogeneity in food practices among low-income groups, and calls for increased scholarly and political recognition of the differences that exist within groups sharing similar economic situations.

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