This article provides and examines empirical evidence in order to evaluate scholarly, professional and activist perspectives that view food insecurity as a function of the stratification of food consciousness. This concept highlights causal models of food insecurity that emphasize micro-level and idealist factors to explain why stratified groups hold distinct attitudes and preferences regarding food provisioning and consumption. An empirical model is developed for the household activity of food acquisition, and the hypothesized preferences of food-insecure and other at-risk urban households are investigated for foods and stores that promote unhealthy eating. The data come from a community food assessment survey in the city of Poughkeepsie, New York, administered to a probabilistic sample of 355 city households. Evidence is found that disproves the stratification of food consciousness model for food acquisition, and debates and research are directed toward more significant factors and contexts of food insecurity.
The authors thank Susan Grove, Jennifer Jordan, Jennifer Smith Maguire, Justin Myers, Joshua Simons, Judith Taylor, and their anonymous reviewers for helpful input on this article. Prior versions were presented at the 2014 American Sociological Association meetings and the 2014 joint conference of the American Society for Food Studies and the Agriculture, Food & Human Values Society. Funding and support for this research was provided by a USDA Food and Nutrition Service Hunger-Free Communities Assessment & Planning Grant (CFDA 10-583) and the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO) at SUNY New Paltz.