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Food access issues on the suburban/urban interface: a case study for Longmont, CO




Phillips, Megan Elizabeth, author
Thilmany, Dawn D. (Dawn Denise), advisor
Graff, Gregory D., committee member
Shields, Martin, committee member

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Traditional literature on food deserts focuses on rural and urban areas, often blaming suburban areas for supermarket abandonment while simultaneously praising suburban areas for their rich food environments. This research shows that despite a dense concentration of supermarkets and other food outlets in the suburban area of Longmont, Colorado, a segment of residents still experience significant challenges in securing fruits and vegetables. However, unlike rural and urban food deserts, distance does not appear to be a significant barrier, perhaps because Longmont exhibits urban center characteristics and suburban characteristics given its proximity to metro-Denver. A community based food assessment complete with a survey, focus groups, and listening session was used to gather data, and then to explore characteristics that explained perceived barriers, ordered probit models and summary statistical analysis were utilized. Results from the models predict that alternative modes of transportation (not one's own car) and ethnicity increase perceived challenges in purchasing/receiving fruits and vegetables. Also, while some primary sources of fruits and vegetables (natural grocery stores, ethnic markets, and seasonal outlets) are associated with increased fruit and vegetable consumption, our expectations that education and income would influence consumption were not discovered. These findings challenge common notions about food deserts and food access issues, as well as their recommended solutions. Alternative solutions to addressing food access are discussed in the context of areas, such as Longmont, along the urban/suburban interface. Overall, it is suggested that food access issues in Longmont are not due to market failures, but instead due to mismatched infrastructure. Several policy proposals and projects are suggested.


2011 Summer.
Includes bibliographical references.

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