Is a nutritionally-balanced and low-carbon diet affordable in Ontario?
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Food plays an essential role in the path towards healthy growth and development, and enhancing the quality of life. Food systems contribute to food security, but also contribute to global environmental changes, such as climate change, and negatively affect environmental security. Food environments influence eating behaviors and food related activities. Within the “consumer nutrition environment”, individual factors such as time, dietary knowledge, food preferences, values, norms and culture are among the many factors that influence how people choose what to eat. Among these factors, affordability and cost are very critical, specifically when encouraging consumers to eat more sustainable food. This study aims to assess the affordability of nutritionally-balanced and low-carbon (NBLC) diets in Ontario, based on food baskets developed by Veeramani et al. (2017). In order to do so an assessment tool was developed to study grocery stores in Southern and Northern Ontario. The results of this study show that in terms of availability of food items, most of the items from nutritionally-balanced and low-carbon food baskets were available for Ontarians. In terms of cost, the type of store (i.e. discount vs regular) significantly affects the price of a NBLC food basket. In terms of affordability, as it is related to income, for households with higher income it is affordable to switch to a NBLC diet. However, households with lower income need to make moderate changes in their present eating behavior. Finally, the financial aspect is an important- but not the only - driver of eating behaviors. Education and knowledge regarding food choices are important determinants of consuming healthy food. In addition, time constraints and how these constraints affect time needed for food related activities are also of significance and in some cases, it could exceed the effect of affordability. Further research is required to study the extent to which each of these factor influence eating behaviors.
Cite this work
Sadaf Mollaei (2018). Is a nutritionally-balanced and low-carbon diet affordable in Ontario?. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12904