Fruit and vegetable access differs by community racial composition and socioeconomic position in Detroit, Michigan.
To compare the availability, selection, quality, and price of fresh fruit and vegetables at food stores in four Detroit-area communities: 1) predominately African-American, low socioeconomic position (SEP); 2) racially heterogeneous, low SEP; 3) predominately African-American, middle SEP; and 4) racially heterogeneous, middle SEP.
Cross-sectional observational survey, conducted fall 2002.
Overall, 304 food stores located in the four communities were evaluated: chain grocery, large independent grocery, "mom-and-pop" grocery, specialty (meat, fruit and vegetable markets), convenience without gasoline, and liquor stores.
Main outcome measures
Availability was indicated by whether a store carried fresh fruit or vegetables, selection was based on a count of 80 fruit and vegetables, quality was evaluated according to USDA guidelines for a subset of 20 fruit and vegetables, and price was assessed for 20 fruit and vegetables by using the lowest-cost method.
Mean quality of fresh produce was significantly lower in the predominately African-American, low-SEP community than in the racially heterogeneous, middle-SEP community. Differences in the types of stores present only partially explained this quality differential. The predominately African-American, low-SEP community had more than four times more liquor stores and fewer grocery stores per 100,000 residents than the racially heterogeneous, middle-SEP community. Mean overall selection and price of fresh produce at stores did not differ among communities.
Increasing access to high-quality fresh produce in low-income communities of color is a critical first step toward improving health through better dietary practices in this population.
Zenk, SN; Schulz, AJ; Israel, BA; James, SA; Bao, S; Wilson, ML
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