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The College of Wooster

In the Eye of the Consumer: A Sociocultural Analysis on Food Choice

by Pagona Nitsa Duda

Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of Senior Independent Study Thesis

Supervised by: Olivia Navarro-Farr

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

2017-2018
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Central Research Question: How do people choose the food they eat?

Sub-Questions:

· How do consumer experiences affect the level of engagement with place, space, and

people when acquiring food?

· How do social relationships affect dietary patterns and perceptions on food?

· Why does food choice influence everyday living or lifestyle?


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Acknowledgements

Thank you to everyone who supported me throughout my independent study. To my

family, thank you for your unconditional love, support, and motivation. I express my

sincerest gratitude to Professor Navarro-Farr for your patience, guidance, and enthusiasm to

oversee the completion of this research project. I started the journey with many questions and

ideas about food. I appreciate the time you took to assist me in my approach to my research

question and methodology. Your insight, constructive comments, and encouragement to trust

my own voice is a gift I thank you for. To The College of Wooster, thank you for the

opportunities to think critically, learn, grow, and reflect upon my experiences in the four

years of my undergraduate degree. Within those food-related experiences, I extend my

gratitude to my study abroad host country (Milan, Italy), The College of Wooster & Wooster

Community Hospital’s Community Care Network, The Shepherd Higher Education

Consortium on Poverty, and The Food Trust.


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Abstract

The purpose of the study is to understand how people choose the food they eat. The

population focuses on consumers and vendors at the West Side Market. This study

hypothesizes that people decide what to eat based on social interactions. Thus, learned, social

behaviors shape food-related attitudes and dietary habits. This study explores food choice by

analyzing consumers’ attitudes through a sociocultural lens. I examine variables that affect

lifestyle; in particular, social relationships and values. The goal is to understand how food

choice behaviors reflect social and cultural values. Thus, the study investigates how

consumers select food by the level of engagement with place, space, and people. The study

employs ethnographic methods with participant observation and informal interviews. I

interview individual vendors and adopt a public health research technique called photovoice

to capture and magnify consumer perceptions. Vendors do not take part in the photovoice

method, but the study aims to understand vendor motivations through personal experiences.

Thus, the research project illustrates the role of vendors in consumer food choice decisions.

Personal narratives are fundamental in the study to depict the interconnection between

consumers, vendors, and food. This study disseminates attitudes on food choice through the

power of storytelling.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction……………………………………..…………………………...1

Methods…………………...……..………………………..………………..…......1

Historical Background of the West Side Market...……….….….….....…………..1

What is food choice? …………………..…………………………….…………....2

Literature Review & Theory……….…...………………..…………………….….3

Conclusion……………………...……………...…………….……...…………….4

Chapter 2 Literature Review…………………………...……...…………………….….5

The Social Dynamic of Food….…………………………………….…...………..5

The Psychological Connection with Food Choice.....………….…………..…...…9

Food & Culture………..……………………………………………………...…...12

Conclusion……………………………………………………………...……........14

Chapter 3 Theory………………………………………………………………………...16

Limitation & Benefit……………………………………………………………....17

Cultural Model Theory………………………………………………........……….17

Food Choice Process Model……………………………………………….……....18

Cultural Schema Theory………………………………………………….…….….20

Constructionist Social Definition Theory…………………………………….…....23

Conclusion……………………………………………………………................…25

Chapter 4 Methods………………………………………………………………….…....26

Field Site Selection…………………………………………………………...……26

Applied Methods…………..………………………………………………….........28

Interviews………………………………………………………………..…28
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Photovoice………………………………………...….………….………...29

Choosing the Appropriate Methods………………………...…………...………...31

Limitations & Benefits…………………………………………...……...…..…….32

Ethical Considerations………………………………………………..………........33

Conclusion……………………………………………………………...……….....34

Chapter 5 Results………………………………....……………………………….…...…35

Presence of Consumers & Vendors………………………………...…………..….35

Consumer & Vendor Perceptions of the Public Market & Food…………………..37

Interaction with People & Food Practice……………………………....………..…39

Photovoice as an Individualized Lens on Food Choice…………………..………..42

Conclusion…………………………………………………………….……..…….49

Chapter 6 Analysis & Discussion…………………………………………….….…........50

Engaging the Senses…………………………………………………………….…51

A Place for Food & People……………………………………………….….….....53

Food Education, Quality, & Variety…………………………………….………....57

Time & Memory………………………………………………...……..…………..62

Nostalgia & Otherness………………………………………………………….….63

Conclusion…………………………………………………………………..….….65

Chapter 7 Final Conclusion & Recommendations for Further Work………………...67


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List of Figures

Appendix A: Location & Layout of the West Side Market……………………………….69

Figure 1 – Map of Downtown Cleveland and the West Side Market……….…….69

Figure 2 – Ohio City Transportation Routes……………………………….….......70

Figure 3a – Map of Market Vendor Stands………………………………………..71

Figure 3b – Food Groupings at the West Side Market……………….……………72

Appendix B: Informal Interview Questions with Vendors………………………………...73

Appendix C: Semi-Structured Informal Interview Questions with Consumers……...…....76

Appendix D: Photovoice Responses Questions……………………………………………77

Appendix E: Photovoice Project Prompts & Instructions………………………………….78

Appendix E (Continued): Photovoice Project Prompts & Instructions…………………….79

Appendix F: Transcript of Informal Interview Responses with Vendors………………….80

Appendix G: Transcript of Semi-Structured Informal Interviews with Consumer...………93

Appendix H: Transcript of Semi-Structured Informal Interviews with Consumer………...94

Appendix I: Transcript of Semi-Structured Informal Interviews with Consumer………….96

Appendix J: Photovoice Response Images………………………………………………....99

Figure 1: Photovoice Image Response #11………………………………………...99

Figure 2: Photovoice Image Response #9.…………………………………………99

Figure 3: Photovoice Image Response #10……………………………...…………99

Figure 4: Photovoice Image Response #13………………………………...………99

Figure 5: Photovoice Image Response #14………………………………...………99

Figure 6: Photovoice Image Response #1……………………………………...…..100

Figure 7: Photovoice Image Response #3……………………………………...…..100


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Figure 8: Photovoice Image Response #2……………………………...………..….101

Figure 9: Photovoice Image Response #7…………………………………..………102

Figure 10: Photovoice Image Response #5……………..…………………..………102

Figure 11: Photovoice Image Response #6…………………..……………..………102

Appendix K: Engaging the Senses……….……………………………….……….………..103

Figure 1: Consumers Examined the Stand………………………………………….103

References………………………………………………………………………………….104
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Chapter 1

Introduction

The purpose of the study is to understand how people choose the food they eat in an

ever changing world. I hypothesize that people decide what to eat based on social

interactions. Thus, food-related attitudes and dietary habits take form by learned, social

behaviors. The study aims to understand how food choice behaviors reflect social and

cultural values. To do so, I examine how consumers select food by the level of engagement

with place, space, and people at the West Side Market in Cleveland, Ohio. I consider

variables that affect lifestyle; in particular, social relationships, values, and attitudes.

Methods

The population focuses on consumers and vendors at the West Side Market. The

study incorporates views, motivations, and personal experiences from the Market’s vendors.

The goal is to portray the role vendors have on consumer food decisions. Furthermore, the

study aims to understand vendor perceptions on food trends and accessibility. Personal

narratives are fundamental to depict people’s relationship with food. I use ethnographic

method in form of participant observation and informal interviews. I interview vendors and

adopt a public health research technique called photovoice to capture and magnify consumer

ideas.

Historical Background of the West Side Market

The study explores the nature of food choice at Cleveland’s West Side Market

because the public space is a historic landmark. Farmers and producers first met at local

markets to sell food to consumers (King, 1913). City authorities set up regulations for the

Market after Ohio City citizens, Josiah Barber and Richard Lord, donated the land (Admin of
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the West Side Market, 2018; Tangires, 2014). Ohio City is a neighborhood west of

Downtown Cleveland which has housed the open air market since 1840 (Admin of the West

Side Market, 2018; Tangires, 2014). People shop for major food groups: fresh meats, fruits,

and vegetables (Admin of the West Side Market, 2018). Food sales began to include fresh

seafood, dairy, bakery items, and ready-to-go food (e.g., herbs, candy, and nuts) upon the

establishment of the Market house in 1912 (Admin of the West Side Market, 2018).

Clyde Lyndon King (1913), political and social scientist, argues, “As residential

centers change, markets decay” (p. 109). Yet, the current stance of the West Side Market

opposes this notion. For instance, the city built a wooden shed on site in 1868 and Benjamin

Hubbel and W. Dominick Benes developed the architecture of the Market house around the

turn of the century (Admin of the West Side Market, 2018; Tangires, 2014). The main

building underwent heating and interior updates in 2004 (Admin of the West Side Market,

2018; Tangires, 2014). Why has the Market remained in existence? The West Side Market

sustained a cultural footprint in the food industry (Cleveland State University, 2018).

Vendors and their families established a name and social status for the city as a leading

culinary and cultural resource (Admin of the West Side Market, 2018; Taxel, 2012). The

Market is representative of diverse ethnic heritage (Admin of the West Side Market, 2018;

Cleveland State University, 2018). The rich history of the West Side Market is well-known

because of the diverse population and representation in food.

What is food choice?

I refer to people’s food decisions as ‘food choice’ throughout the study. Sobal and

Bisogni (2009) define food choice as “frequent, multifaceted, situational, dynamic, and

complex” (p. 37) decisions. Thus, food choice guides individual actions when people
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“prepare, serve, give away, eat, store, and clean up” food (Sobal & Bisogni, 2009, p. 37). I

conceptualize food choice as a meaningful way to communicate dietary needs in part with

Sobal and Bisogni’s (2009) expression of food behavior. More so, I observe food choice as a

tie of actions and reactions, or series of attitudes, to make a decision on what to eat. I assess

individual and collaborative efforts (i.e., by families) during food acquisition to explain the

impact of social, psychological, and cultural impulses in food choice.

Literature Review & Theory

In the literature review, I explore ways people decide what to eat from various angles.

Thus, I exemplify what causes a person to act on a food decision. I first refer to the social

dynamics of food to examine influences on food choice (Hardcastle et al., 2015; Russell et

al., 2014). Then, the study focuses on psychological associations with food (Hardcastle et al.,

2015; Hoffmann, 2006; Holtzman, 2006; Miller et al., 2015; Sutton, 2001, 2010). People

perceive food in mental and emotional states that gauge a person to determine what to eat.

This incorporates studies on people’s attitudes, food preferences, memory, and cognizance.

The final element of food choice considered in the literature review is food and culture

(Moffat & Finnis, 2010). The section investigates the condition of food choice when food

practices and options shift due to the development of industrial food production and the

globalization of food. In the following chapter, the study uses a combination of theories to

create a framework through a sociocultural lens: 1.) Geert Hofstede’s cultural model theory

(Garro, 2000), 2.) application of the food choice process model (Bisogni et al., 2002; Furst et

al., 1996; Sobal & Bisogni, 2009), 3.) interpretation of the cultural schema theory (Garro,

2000), and 4.) engagement with the constructionist social definition theory (Garro, 2000).
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Conclusion

People’s ability to choose what they can eat is a freedom most people do not have on

a day-to-day basis. Famine, food insecurity, poor environmental conditions, war, etc. are

constraints that violate human rights and restrict food choice. People may look at these

hardships on food as situational depending on location and socioeconomic status. But, how

do people choose the food they eat in a safe and secured place?

Food choice reflects nuance on who we are as an individual and who we are as part

of a social and cultural group. We consume food to honor our well-being through traditions,

in terms of mental and emotional, physical, and social health. Food serves a purpose in health

and medicinal practices. Holidays, rituals, and other celebratory and social events incorporate

food for specific reasons. These activities shape identity, beliefs, and values based on how

we take care of ourselves. More so, food reflects the attitudes and beliefs of the individual in

daily practices. The importance of people’s food experiences is to understand community

culture. How does food consumption behavior, social relationships, and consumer

experiences determine a lifestyle? Our daily behavior drives our need for food subsistence. In

company, people have a natural instinct to connect through food and communicate to get it.

Thus, I disseminate attitudes on food choice through the power of storytelling.


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Chapter 2

Literature Review

This literature review explains social relationships, mentality, and cultural influences

on food choice. I examine social (Hardcastle et al., 2015; Russell et al., 2014), psychological

(Hardcastle et al., 2015; Hoffmann, 2006; Holtzman, 2006; Miller et al., 2015; Sutton, 2001,

2010), and cultural processes (Moffat & Finnis, 2010). The literature engages in the field of

nutrition and science in public health (Miller et al., 2015; Russell et al., 2014), social

psychology (Hardcastle et al., 2015), and anthropology (Holtzman, 2006; Sutton, 2001,

2010). The social dynamic of food draws a parallel between attitudes and consequences of

food choice. The psychological section acknowledges food choice based on past and present

experiences. The literature on food and culture demonstrates how the food environment

affects ways of living.

The Social Dynamic of Food

The development of food choice begins at a young age. In this section, I demonstrate

how consumers influence one another’s food choices. I refer to Russell et al. (2014) to

explain the dynamic between parents’ and children’s food choices, motives, and preferences.

I also refer to Hardcastle et al. (2015) to focus on themes she identifies from various bodies

of literature on food (Deliens et al., 2015; Ensaff et al., 2015; Miller et al., 2015).

Parents, guardians, and health professionals influence food choice from birth.

Newborns and children are vulnerable and unable to completely fend for themselves. Thus,

people depend on food provision by others (Hamburg et al., 2014). But, how do adults go

about making food decisions? What do consumers consider?


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Hardcastle et al. (2015) acknowledge (Deliens et al., 2015) findings on young adults.

University students responded to surveys on social and environmental influences. Modelling

influences (i.e., family and friends), stricter family rules, greater perceived behavioral

control, and confidence impact food choice (Hardcastle et al., 2015). For example, a person

is less likely to consume soft or energy drinks if family and friends rarely do so (Hardcastle

et al., 2015, p. 8712). Thus, people are more likely to simulate actions of an immediate social

circle.

Russell et al. (2014) examine parents’ motives in food selection. Parents search,

choose, and buy food for their children. Russell et al. (2014) examine associations between

parent motives and children’s food preferences. The purpose is to understand factors

affecting children’s health. The ultimate goal is to provide supporting data on how to shift

children’s food behaviors. Russell et al. (2014) aim to show the transition with dietary

recommendations.

Russell et al. (2014) inquire parents of 2-5-year-old children in two Australian

cities—Melbourne and Adelaide. The study focuses on mothers who share similar

credentials. For example, the mothers are college graduates who maintain a full- or part-time

job. Also, the mothers represent different socioeconomic statuses. The study uses cross-

sectional survey to assess parents’ food choice motives. Alongside, Russell et al. (2014) use a

5-point Likert scale to determine children’s likes and dislikes of 176 food and beverage

items. Russell et al. (2014) also use a statistical technique called exploratory principal

component analysis. The method identifies a pattern between food choice motives and

preferences. Thus, the analysis makes a connection between two random variables.
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The study focuses on inconsistent food consumption behavior. Russell et al. (2014)

investigate food recommendations of health organizations. Children lack a balance between

suggested food intake by hospital programs, outreach initiatives, etc. which include fruits,

vegetables, and water (Russell et al., 2014). Children’s food intake from health organization

recommendations is less than expected (Russell et al., 2014). The consumption of other food

items shows higher significance. But, the study depicts an imbalance between healthy and

processed foods which both presume health consequences (Russell et al., 2014). Russell et al.

(2014) conclude that health, nutrition, and taste motivate parent food choices. Other factors,

like price or ethics, are less important in parent food choices (Russell et al., 2014). But, the

results of Russell et al. (2014) study show that parents with lower education levels and

socioeconomic status adopt unhealthy eating practices. Hardcastle et al. (2015) examine

Tanja et al. (2015) study on the relationship between eating competence and food choices.

Tanja et al. (2015) surveyed adolescents to find that greater eating competence associates

with “greater meal frequency, a higher intake of fruits and vegetables, and more health-

promoting family eating patterns” (Hardcastle et al., 2015, p. 8712).

Russell et al. (2014) isolated parent motivations and health patterns of children’s food

preferences with success of the exploratory principal component analysis. Natural and ethical

concerns motivate parents to buy certain foods (Russell et al., 2014). Thus, children have

healthier patterns of food preferences. Hardcastle et al. (2015) and other researchers explain

the phenomena as a modelling influence. Children show higher fruit and vegetable intake

when parents eat the food. Parents choose food with conscious effort on how people and

businesses make and provide food. In contrast, parents who support a child’s food preference

show unhealthy patterns of food preferences. Russell et al. (2014) report on direct and
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indirect contact with health interventions. Food choice involves family, friends, doctors, and

other health professionals (Russell et al., 2014). Other indirect influences on food choice

include advertisements, media, books, etc. (Hardcastle et al., 2015). Family relationships

have significant effect on food choice. Parents create a set of values that best suit individual

and group needs in a family.

Parents take into account mental, emotional, and physical processes. Some parents

consider other factors as inessential motivators in food choice. The factors include price,

political concerns, and advertising (Russell et al., 2014). Yet, some parent choices align with

what their children want when shopping for food. Thus, some children are less likely to enjoy

and consume fresh food. Children miss opportunities to try new or unfamiliar food, which

includes vegetables, fruits, and cereals (Russell et al., 2014). Thus, parents can hinder

children’s exposure to new foods. The trajectory of a food habit depends on the selection of

preferable and familiar food. In what ways do children sway parents support for nutritious

food? How do children know there are other food options if they do not choose fresh food to

eat? How do parents provide food options or serve what they want their child to eat? How

does age and family change the dynamic of food choice?

A dichotomous relationship exists between parents’ motives and children’s food

preferences. Parents find value in fulfilling individual and collective needs of the family. Yet,

the consumption of healthy food is important to adults. Parents’ food choice motives and

children’s food preferences hold powerful weight. The social value of nutrition may create

social pressure in food choice. Parents share responsibility in the socialization of children’s

eating habits. Parents face a variety of concerns to meet their child’s food preference
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expectations and maintain good health. Thus, parents build common ideas on food for

children and youths before they make independent food choices as an adult.

The Psychological Connection with Food Choice

In this section, I argue that people navigate the process of food choice with

psychological approaches. I focus on memory, mores, values, and cognition. Memory is the

mental act of remembering and dismissing experiences (Hoffmann, 2006; Sutton, 2001).

David Sutton (2001) examines the intersection of food and memory in anthropology. Sutton

(2001) did ethnographic field work on the Greek island of Kalymnos and describes food and

memory in five themes.

First, Sutton (2001) explains daily food shopping, preparation, and implicit

consumption as a single unit for ritual and routine. The food acts shape a way people live and

establish opportunities for people to come together (Hoffmann, 2006; Sutton, 2001). People

anticipate, refer to, and reflect upon daily events and celebrations (Hoffmann, 2006). More

so, people associate memory in a particular time frame and reflect memory in food choice.

Food sharing prods at the edifice of memory in the food decision-making process (Hoffmann,

2006; Sutton, 2001). Personal tastes and feelings recollect with familiar food practices.

For the Kalymnians, personal and group identity is reputable with food, but stories

determine past, present, and future exchanges (Hoffmann, 2006; Sutton, 2001). Hoffmann

(2006) reiterates that gifts and counter-gifts of food do not create memory. Sutton (2001) also

recognized the underdeveloped area of study on taste and smell with food (Hoffmann, 2006).

Thus, Sutton (2010) further examines the intersection between synesthesia and the notion of

taste. Synesthesia is a conglomerate of sensory impressions that make food memorable

(Hoffmann, 2006; Sutton, 2010). Thus, the sensation of flavor is an indicator of a food
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choice. The implicit connotation may convey food preference. But, a food decision does not

only depend on biological and chemical reactions to food consumption (Melis, 2017). The

actual taste of food is a separate individual factor to assist people in food decisions.

Sutton’s (2001, 2010) research illustrates the psychological response of food choice.

The response to an eaten food sets the foundation of a habitual feeling when a person decides

what to eat in daily food practices or is expected to eat on a special occasion. Thus, a

person’s food preference surfaces depending on the type of experience. Food choice

implements positive, neutral, or negative feelings from the past. The body’s reaction to a

familiar taste or sight create other reactions (Hoffmann, 2006; Sutton, 2010). Thus, people

are receptive to making confident food choices when the outcome is distinct and anticipated.

Sutton’s (2001) fourth theme distinguishes the recollection of food during meals, also

referred to as “whole events” (Hoffmann, 2006). Sutton (2001) associates the cognitive

structure of memory with the way people eat and recall food from a social activity. His final

point on food and memory refers to recipes. People lose food traditions and recipes through

oral transmission, like ways to prepare and cook cuisines (Hoffmann, 2006; Sutton, 2001).

People acknowledge food traditions by sharing information. Family members and local peers

influence food practices as collective cultural knowledge across generations. Recipes

function as a benefit to social eating, which Sutton (2001) explains when people eat together

at meal times and special events. The condition of lost food practices restricts potential food

choice. Hence, new food decisions may arise through memory. How does oral transmission

of knowledge on food practices and choice influence cultural knowledge of future

generations? What happens to individual identity? How does one create new food choices out

of the old and forgotten?


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In contrast to Sutton’s (2001, 2010) research, Miller et al. (2015) perpetuate the idea

of attention and knowledge on food choice while individual people shop for prepared food.

Miller et al. (2015) study the relationship between food labels and food choice. The research

monitors eye movements of adults in the United States to assess attention on nutritional

information of food labels (Hardcastle et al., 2015; Miller et al., 2015). American consumers

demand more “ready-to-eat” meals and other economic alternatives that are often packaged,

processed, and proportioned (Counihan, 2002; Nestle et al., 1998). Typically, the processed

foods comprise of sugars, fat, and sodium, which are lethal to long-term health (Armelagos,

2010; Counihan, 2002; Nestle et al., 1998). Consumers navigate food decisions with select

information provided to customers, like food labels. Thus, food and nutrition are

predominantly coupled to emphasize the effects of food consumption behavior on human

health. Miller et al. (2015) find more people are likely to consume a healthy diet if they pay

close attention food labels (Hardcastle et al., 2015). The intent to engage with food items

suggests nutrition is important to the consumer. But, the research method does not observe

what consumers look at nor does it test for competency of food labels.

The study on food labels in relation to dietary intake is innovative. The method is the

first to prove the use of food labels in relation to diet quality (Miller et al., 2015). Thus,

further research on the study may investigate the design of food labels for consumer

comprehension. This notion refers back to the people’s food motivations on food quality

(Russell et al., 2014). People base their food choices off of quality and ingredients that

benefit health.

Content analysis on common words used to describe “quality” ingredients would be

beneficial in the analysis of food choice. How do people define quality in food choice?
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People subject language or word terminology to different meanings, associations, and

interpretations from different cultural backgrounds. People’s ability to understand the

nutritional data of a food label is a negative barrier on food choice. How does product design

and advertisement enthrall a customer? The knowledge of what people can and cannot

consume is explicable. Yet, the lack of pedagogy explaining the use and effects of artificial

and preservative ingredients is inexcusable. How do people put into effect outside knowledge

in food decisions?

Food & Culture

This section draws on Moffat & Finnis (2010) who discuss food and culture in a

comparative study. In this context, I argue food choice as an explorative phenomena of

culture in place and space. Moffat & Finnis (2010) examine dietary diversity issues and food

transitions in a rural village in Nepal. The purpose is to understand the impact of rural to

urban environments on the diversity of diets. The main case of the study examines dietary

intake and health of children. The location is in the metropolis area of Nepal in Kathmandu.

The children’s parents work at a carpet factory and experience effects of economic

marginalization. Workers move from their rural communities to find economic opportunities

in urban economies. The analytical approach of the study aims to understand a variety of

perspectives within the discipline of anthropology and food nutrition sciences.

The study used Dietary Diversity Scores (DDS) to determine chronic undernutrition.

Moffat & Finnis (2010) focus on how dietary transitions contribute to insufficient nutrient

intake. Moffat & Finnis (2010) acknowledge a gap in research methods and encourage

studies to use more qualitative methods to empower local voices. Also, qualitative research

needs forethought on food values, preferences, other cases of dietary transition, and health
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implications of food regimes. The research exemplifies that culture is a global occurrence

with groups of people who emphasize more attention or intentional action with their belief

system and values. People have easy access to “prepared, preprocessed foods” not commonly

available in rural areas or villages of Kathmandu (Moffat & Finnis, 2010). The movement of

unfamiliar food practices from a Western food culture to another delocalizes food customs

and traditions. People interact with Western ideas on food which impose other cultural

beliefs in eastern cultures, like those in the country of Nepal. Thus, the research on dietary

intake within a food environment (Moffat & Finnis, 2010) demonstrate outside factors that

impact food choice.

More so, Moffat & Finnis (2010) identify characteristics of food delocalization in the

economic effects between food choice and food intake. Subsistence farming drives small,

local economies in Nepal (Moffat & Finnis, 2010). Nepalese people living in a rural village

rely less on farmers when people decide or need to move to urban economies for a job in

order to support daily needs, like food (Moffat & Finnis, 2010). People’s ability to buy,

choose, and consume food from farmers, who cultivated and provided food, change in

relation to other demands of local economies with higher status or power. Thus, Moffat and

Finnis (2010) emphasize a clear rapid change in human habitat. The notion of how people

adapt to shifts in Nepal and in their cultural standards influence people to maintain, adapt, or

change food practices.

The geographical location is important in this research because the study attempts to

understand the perception and experience of Nepalese cities. Moffat and Finnis (2010)

examine tourist businesses in contrast to local restaurants surrounded by neighborhoods with

no healthcare facilities within the vicinity (Moffat & Finnis, 2010). Other studies use similar
14
analyses strategies of dietary transitions and nutritional shifts, but the results of Moffat and

Finnis’ (2010) research emphasize the displacement of food choice and cultural norms.

Moffat and Finnis (2010) discover self-motivated interests and outside forces mediate

consumer values.

The main concern of Moffat and Finnis (2010) derives from more recent analyses on

diet and nutrition. Similar to Nestle et al. (1998) remark on Western diet, developing

countries experience higher changes in food choices as a result of dietary change in

developing and underdeveloped countries (Moffat & Finnis, 2010). This type of dietary

transition is characterized by high levels of fat, sugar, and processed, prepackaged foods

(Counihan, 2002; Moffat & Finnis, 2010; Nestle et al., 1998;). Thus, packaged foods

contribute to the high and rising obesity rates already present in North America, United

Kingdom, and Europe (Moffat & Finnis, 2010). The prosperous economic and industrial

development during post-World War II reconstruction increased obesity because diet and

physical activity changed (Popkin, 1998; Ulijaszek, 2006). Thus, social, economic, and

technological changes alter patterns of lifestyle on a global and local scale (Ulijaszek, 2006).

Globalized dietary practices cause less famine because there is accessible food. Yet, the type

and quality of food alters food practices and jeopardizes longevity. The intersectionality

between food, health, and lifestyle in terms of food choice is necessary to consider in form of

preventative health.

Conclusion

Social, psychological, and cultural processes deem significance in people’s food

choices. The process of decision-making accounts for many factors. The environment and

context of culture in that atmosphere motivates food choices. People exchange knowledge
15
and beliefs on food in social circles. Family, friends, and community members influence how

people think about food. The theory section seeks the actual thought process and act of

making a food decision.


16
Chapter 3

Theory

In the theory chapter, I develop the sociocultural lens on how people choose the food

they eat. I use theoretical perspectives and models of food choice to support my original

hypothesis on how dietary habits and attitudes on food develop from learned, social

behaviors. The study illustrates food choice decisions in two frames. First, the study uses the

cultural model theory as a broader framework. Cultural modeling is an approach to explain

how people make sense of the world and display certain behaviors as a result of it. I apply the

cultural model theory (Garro, 2000) to bridge a gap between cognition and culture. The

cultural model theory helps observe psychological and cultural perspectives to interpret the

process of food choice.

Second, the cultural model theory funnels into a micro lens of the cultural schema

theory (Garro, 2000). People structure a personal way of thinking by self-creating and

combining perspectives from other individuals who share similar ideas within a social

network or community. The cultural schema explains a person’s paradigm or world view

depending on the space where cultural and social interactions coexist. Then, the study

connects the concepts by implementing ideologies from the constructionist social definition

perspective (Garro, 2000) and food choice process model (Bisogni et al., 2002; Furst et al.,

1996; Sobal & Bisogni, 2009). The cultural model theory separates similar ideas from the

constructionist perspective and food choice process model. The macro scope of the cultural

model theory organizes the application of the other related theories and models related to

food choice. The factors of each model and theory pin point the layers of food choice and its

dynamic movement to explain the complexity and plasticity of multifaceted processes of


17
food. The cultural model theory uses a comprehensive and versatile approach to understand

and explain food choice behaviors in a similar fashion.

Limitation & Benefit

The study uses empirical evidence to answer food choice decisions. The cultural

model theory is not always reliable depending on how a researcher applies the perspective.

The cultural model theory can overgeneralize or downplay values and norms surrounding

ideologies of identity and cultural beliefs. Thus, I design an integrated theoretical framework

to explain and challenge the phenomenon of food choice. The cultural model theory is

applicable in the comprehension of how social and cultural values reflect food choice

behaviors and attitudes. Also, the cultural model theory is useful to explain ideologies of

individual and cultural knowledge on food. The theoretical structure demonstrates different

applications of food choice throughout the study. The facet of theoretical applications is

critical in representing similarities and differences among people, communities, and society

at large.

Cultural Model Theory

I consider anthropological concepts in this study to determine what theories and

models are relevant in foods studies and social sciences. Geert Hofstede, a Dutch social

psychologist and organizational anthropologist, provides a meaningful input on multicultural

understandings. Hofstede created a clear way to study and think of cultural differences

around 1980 (Minkov, 2011). In particular, the cultural model theory derives from his four-

cultural dimensions’ model on national identity (Minkov, 2011). Edward T. Hall, Levi

Strauss, and Fon Trompennars developed the concept of culture and the proposed theory of
18
cultural categories in sociology and anthropology (Singh, 2011). The study concentrates on

Hofstede’s understanding of how people measure and operationalize culture (Garro, 2000).

The cultural model theory looks at a facet of food choice with the social,

psychological, and cultural perspective in mind. Consumers express ideas, opinions, and past

experiences on food whereas others suggest their thoughts on food decisions through

behaviors to acquire and consume (Furst et al., 1996; Sobal & Bisogni, 2009). The cultural

model theory separates and categorizes individual experiences of consumers. But, the theory

does not provide explicit grounds to determine if a culture or community share collective

ideas (Garro, 2000). A person’s ability to decide what to eat as a group is not of question.

The theory explicates how a person decides what to eat regardless of social and cultural

ideologies in a group or social unit of people.

Food Choice Process Model

Food choice does not succeed in the same way of food acquisition and consumption.

Food choice is detailed-focus and strategic in the selection and elimination of food options.

The cultural model theory explains how people shape, form, and direct individual

experiences when present knowledge is taken into account. Furst et al. (1996) shows that the

food choice process model is representative of a set of facts in the process of making a single

decision. The model is a constructionist view revealing a personal belief system. Individuals

identify attitudes on food by internalizing and negotiating its value to them (the consumer) on

a personal level. Then, a person classifies their belief and preference on a food in a social

context where people form and revise food choice (Bisogni et al., 2002; Sobal & Bisogni,

2009). People adjust food choice strategies and routines depending on the environment they

acquire food (Bisogni et al., 2002; Sobal & Bisogni, 2009). Parts of the constructionist social
19
definition perspective interact with social, psychological, and cultural counterparts in a

dynamic manner. The theory connects food choice with decisions of repeatable and

recognizable food behavior. A common characteristic of the cultural model theory

demonstrates that individuals of a culture share different opinions on dietary eating habits.

People eat food some with more similar or different experiences than others.

The food choice process is categorized into three types of factors that determine food

decisions: 1) life course, 2) influences, and 3) personal system (Furst et al., 1996). The

relationship is a direct line of path in generating an attitude towards a food decision. The

personal roles and the social, cultural, and physical environments a person has been and is

exposed to are supporting effects of a life course decision on food choice (Furst et al., 1996).

People may or may not be aware of what control they have over what they eat, in which they

can choose what to buy and consume at any point in time. The act of food choice is explicit

in nature. But, food choice is also implicit in the minded assumptions or beliefs of a group of

people, like a family unit or community.

A person’s life course progresses into a set of influences, which include: ideals,

personal factors, resources, social framework, and food context (Furst et al., 1996). As a

consequence of influences, the associating factors inform and shape people’s personal

systems that include “conscious value negotiations and consciously operationalized strategies

that may occur in a food-related choice situation” (Furst et al., 1996, p. 250). The food choice

process model attributes to the cultural model theory. Food choice is a mindful process that

self-informs and formulates mental options for an individual to situate themselves in and

decide from. Primarily, the food choice process model demonstrates people’s food choice

behavior in terms of course events and experiences (Bisogni et al., 2002; Furst et al., 1996).
20
These life transitions, turning points, and other circumstances reflect external influences that

change individual realities on food attitudes.

Cultural Schema Theory

Cultural schemas are a pattern of thought and behavior that align with the nature of

individual and cultural knowledge (Garro, 2000). Thus, a person’s behavior changes as they

gain knowledge. The construct of schemas within the theory itself converge on a wide variety

of contemporary cognitive theories (Garro, 2000). Constructive thoughts measure

information and mediate mental processing to learn and formulate a perception (“innate

mental structures”) and organize related pieces of knowledge (Garro, 2000, p. 284). The

process of analyzing acquired information is a form of categorization and mental coding. The

cultural schema theory conceptualizes the psychological action as an internal response to

experiences which mark and shape a person’s set of values, outlook on life, and how they

feel at a particular time of an experience. Mental structures organize people’s perceptions

from an experience based on the practice of personal values and response to situations and

events.

The widely shared nature of knowledge and community does not impose assumptions

on cultural values. Cognition is valuable to draw on because it pushes for conversation on

“strongly connected cognitive elements (Strauss & Quinn, 1997)” (Garro, 2000, p. 285). The

collection of cognitive elements are individual memories that work together to process

information (Garro, 2000). Schemas are learned from “human mediated experiences (Strauss

& Quinn, 1997)” (Garro, 2000, p. 285). These experiences are not subjective to all being the

same, but in consequence of food choice.


21
Furst et al. (1996) explain in their social framework that food choice is in a dynamic

opposition with competing food options and changing factors in social relationships and the

environment. Specifically, conflicting priorities, like nutritional and ethical concerns (Russell

et al., 2014), introduce an interplay between personal and cultural values in food choice.

There are important social dimensions that mediate food choice decisions by the nature of

interpersonal relationships, social roles, and social meaning (Furst et al., 1996). External

forces within society influence cultural knowledge, like popular culture and government

(macro interaction) or family and religion (micro interactions). This form of collective

information or informative knowledge allows people to adhere to social and cultural norms,

rules, and laws within a community. For instance, consumers from another city, state,

country, or continent may rely on local, cultural knowledge to know where to eat. Consumers

may attempt to understand what is available and suitable in food costs, as well as knowing

how to travel to a food destination like Cleveland’s West Side Market.

I analyze patterns on how consumers perceive, value, and motivate themselves to eat

particular foods with a focus on assumptions, concerns, and judgements in relation to health,

family, and lifestyle. Various perspectives on food choice help examine human actions and

describe the complexity of decision making. Sobal & Bisogni (2009) suggest research to

analyze decision making from one perspective. Food choice decisions may be categorized

under the control of institutions and environments constraining consumer decisions. Thus,

external forces influence social and cultural values found in the physical and political

infrastructure of a community (Garro, 2000; Sobal & Bisogni, 2009). However, the social

definition perspective conceptualizes food choice decisions from an interactive stance.


22
People reconsider choices during an interpretation phase on available food options (Sobal &

Bisogni, 2009).

In contrary, theoretical assumptions do not dismiss other interpretations of decision

making as individualistic “micro-approaches” or holistic “macro-approaches” (Sobal &

Bisogni, 2009). The process of food choice calls for plausible explanations, with agency and

structure, in order to look at both micro and macro perspectives (Garro, 2000; Sobal &

Bisogni, 2009). Individual and cultural knowledge accounts for the relationships, morals,

emotions, and memories that consider to be important parts of food practices and food choice

decisions in the development of self and sociocultural longevity in a community.

Members of a culture share interconnected portals to cultural knowledge. To draw

from these experiences, the cultural model theory creates new ways to understand common

experiences of people’s food choices over time. However, semantic memory is

underrepresented in cultural knowledge (Garro, 2000). Cultural model theorists seek to

demonstrate the issue of how much people can learn from one another and use as much

knowledge to address the nature and organization of cultural knowledge (Garro, 2000).

Consequently, all food choice decisions eventually become part of a consensus if options

continue to increase in complexity. Food choice decisions situate within personal and

historical time (Garro, 2000; Sobal & Bisogni, 2009).

Culture has an abstract presence through the liability of people who create, reinforce,

and center a collective belief system. I offer an interpretation of various models and theories

that demonstrate their relevance to understand how people determine food consumption

behavior. Food choice is cultural to a similar extent which it is social depending on the

context it is seen in. This means that from a cultural or social perspective, the cultural model
23
theory is a transformative and an adaptive theory to clearly and meaningfully explain the

inner personal and outer personal understanding of food choice approaches.

Constructionist Social Definition Theory

The constructionist social definition theory is important in defining, interpreting, and

analyzing social and cultural interactions. Individuals examine their food choices from

collective experiences (Garro, 2000). People internally and externally negotiate food

consumption from social and cultural contexts which provide symbolic meaning to them in

the future (Garro, 2000). People experience the decision process and its outcome to varying

degrees. The extent in which food choice interests are taken into consideration is relatively

present in the construct of both personal food choice decisions, psychological schemas, and

social interactions.

The food choice process model examines decisions individuals make on their own.

The model illustrates comparative decision-making actions that are applicable in food choice,

but in any situation that informs an experiential outcome. People take into consideration the

food they consume in a variety of settings associated with social, cultural, psychological, and

environmental situations. Theorists and researchers understand and have proven external

forces that influence food choice. The cultural, personal, and social factors that present

themselves in during food acquisition is dependent on food behaviors. Food behaviors start

as a simple act, but based on the literature review, food choices are difficult when there are

abundant food options. Personal values, accessible resources, and the direction or goal an

individual seeks in their life course mediates food choice. Conscious food behavior and

reflection in food decisions help understand the influence of social norms in association with

eating patterns.
24
The cultural schema theory is significant in its distinction for people to present

opinions based on constructive processes (Garro, 2000). The variation of values, experiences,

and other beliefs construe psychological and even social networks that create an ever-

changing scope on people’s interpretations. The variation of meanings and experiential

accounts mentally assign indicative adherences to the preferential ideology one believes in

(Garro, 2000). The assumption that social interactions connect people over the consequence

of food consumption is implicit and culturally salient in understanding shared or

miscommunicated beliefs. Personal experiences are apparent in building cultural schema, and

in theory, it may be found impressionable upon the completion of the ethnographic record at

Cleveland’s West Side Market.

Mental interactions with food is powerful. The theory highlights important facets that

are rarely seen or understood every day. Cultural schemas help distinguish what is cultural,

social, and psychological from various perspectives that can be conjoined and separated

(Furst et al., 1996; Sobal & Bisogni, 2009). The product of our food choice decisions provide

a glimpse into the food choice process model. The interrelated concepts inform people on

their own experiences when they are consciously and subconsciously aware of in a food

environment and community (Garro, 2000). Thus, different interpretations on people’s food

choice behaviors contribute to situational contexts. Food is symbolic, and economically tied

to higher institutions where they are part of distinct, strong, and complex belief systems.
25
Conclusion

Some people may impede a different or similar understanding of cultural, social, and

anthropological messages in theory. Theoretical ways of thinking presumably create routes to

understand and use previous research and other applications of concepts in new realms of

academia. There are other circumstances where many studies use other prevalent theories.

Theorists contribute substantial knowledge or new ways of understanding across multiple

disciplines. This research strives to engage food choice behavior through deductive reasoning

and facts. The empirical world demonstrates the schema of this particular research on food

behavior. Therefore, how people make a food choice decision is significant as society

progresses and changes ways in which people interact to subsist. The next chapter transitions

from the roots of the empirical world and into inductive reasoning through anthropological

methods.
26
Chapter 4

Methods

In this chapter, the study details how I collected data to observe, discuss, and connect

perspectives with daily food and social behavior with ethnographic methods that encompass

participant observation, interviews, and photovoice. I submitted a proposal to the Human

Subjects Research Committee (HSRC) and received approval before conducting research. I

developed the use of the methodologies in the process of obtaining HSRC approval. I assured

that the protection and rights of the participants were appropriately met while meeting

research goals. I conducted the study during the winter season of December 2017 at the West

Side Market in Cleveland, Ohio.

Field Site Selection

I chose the West Side Market as my designated field site because the landmark

sustained a reputation as a center to purchase food for decades. Thus, the site was feasible

and viable to complete data collection and answer the main research question on how

consumer experiences affect the level of engagement with place, space, and people when

acquiring food. The Market is a public space located on the outskirts of downtown Cleveland

at the northeast corner of Lorain Avenue and West 25th Street with accessible public transit,

available parking surrounding the Market area for car owners, and accommodating sidewalks

for pedestrians living in the Ohio City area (Admin of the West Side Market, 2018). (See

Appendix A, Figure 1). The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) Red Line

stands across the street from the West Side Market at the West 25 th Street along with bus

lines, including 22, 26, 45, 51, 79, and 81 (Ohio City Incorporated, 2016). (See Appendix A,

Figure 2). Bus and train routes, schedules, and fares are available online and at the stations.
27
The Market is a place of business and privately owned. Thus, it was imperative to

contact the Market Supervisor to explain the project and request permission to be on the

property to ask vendors and customers questions. I first referred to the West Side Market’s

official public website to contact the management office, but the available phone number

directed me to an automated voicemail of the Market’s days and times of operation. I met

with the Market Supervisor in person to introduce myself as a student from The College of

Wooster in pursuit to complete an undergraduate research project. The Market Supervisor

became my gate keeper because their occupational role and authority determined whether I

had access to speak with the community. The Market Supervisor granted official approval for

me to be on the property to speak with people and observe the space. After the first steps to

gain access to the field site, the Market Supervisor and I discussed the need for me, as a

researcher and student, to wear a badge identifying my association with The College of

Wooster.

The public market is open five days a week with Tuesdays and Thursdays off,

meaning my time to do fieldwork was limited. I visited the site for a span of two weeks on

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from seven in the morning until two in the afternoon. I

created interview and photovoice questions with prepared statements, including all questions

that could be asked if conversation was to move in a particular direction or topic. The best

time to speak with vendors was at the early hour between seven and eight o’clock in the

morning. I was cautious of the amount of time participants wanted to put into question

responses or upon vendors’ availability for me to approach and request to ask questions. For

vendors, I perceived the length of their responses, the line of customers around us, and any

work they were doing at the stand while speaking with me (for example, preparing food or
28
organizing paperwork). Regarding customers, I observed whether or not they were engaged

in deep conversation, actively focused on buying food, waiting in line, positioning

themselves among the balcony seating, etc. I took into account social cues because people’s

social expressions, including verbal and nonverbal signs of communication relative to

American culture, influenced whether or not I spoke with vendors and customers.

Applied Methods

The detailed accounts of my market experiences were handwritten as I examined

social interactions between vendors and consumers, the lay out of the market (See Appendix

A, Figure 3a-b), what products vendors provide at their stands, what consumers purchase,

and categorize food in terms of cost, quantity, and size. I asked consumers and vendors to

participate in this study by approaching them (verifying his or her role at the market) and

further explaining the project. Although participant-observation and unexpected

conversations cannot be replicated with the same participants, the prepared sets of questions

for the interviews and photovoice are available for other people to replicate, verify similar

findings, and continue to develop data analyses from the methods (See Appendix B-E).

➢ Interviews:

The chosen method and organization to approach the research question took time to

develop because the time constraint surrounding the research project was a constant factor in

determining how much qualitative data I could acquire and analyze. I completed informal

interviews with six individual sellers from a random sample of 96 vendors and three semi-

structured informal interviews with consumers. There was available space to interview

vendors and consumers at the stands and in close proximity. I spoke with vendors at an

appropriate time where I neither interfered nor disrupted their work, service, or invaded their
29
stand. The complete informal interview took no more than 10 minutes, and participants did

not have to answer anything they did not wish to share. (See Appendix F for Transcript of

Informal Interview Responses with Vendors) Six consumers were selected at random to

participate in the photovoice methodology, however, vendors did not participate. A brief,

semi-structured informal interview was prepared with a set of pre-determined questions that I

asked out of sequence. The interview served to detail consumer experience when acquiring

food and the level of engagement with place, space, and people. (See Appendix G-I for

Transcript of Semi-Structured Interviews with Consumers) There were additional questions

included in both the informal and semi-structured informal interviews. The questions were

asked depending on the duration of the interview. However, in consideration of time,

photovoice participants participated in the exercise without taking part in the semi-structured

informal interview or vice versa. All responses were handwritten because it was a risk to

audio record in a working space. Interviews and other conversations could have been

compromised by surrounding noises or technical difficulties.

➢ Photovoice:

The photovoice methodology itself was innovated by Caroline Wang, Mary Ann

Burris, and colleagues to empower participants and engage in the research process by

controlling images used in the study (Amos, 2012; Given, 2011; Wang & Burris, 1997). I

selected this method because the technique helps visualize and comprehend community

needs, perceptions, expectations, assumptions, etc. Photovoice was not limited to voicing

consumer thoughts on critical issues. The consumer took a photo that best reflected their

response, concern, idea, etc. based on a given question stated. Furthermore, the consumer

was given the option to take one or two photos for each question if they found it difficult to
30
take a photo that best articulated their response to a question. In addition to the photo

submission, the consumer wrote a statement or personal description explaining the

photograph in further detail via email. The participant was asked to formulate a response to

each question they answered. Consumers were asked to write at least five sentences or more

to help process what the photograph meant to them. The data set is incomplete or could not

function on its own without the original interpretation of the individual who took the photo

(Given, 2011). When the participant finished taking photos, then he or she emailed the

following images they allowed the researcher to use in the study. In his or her email, the

consumer typed out the questions and their responses according to the question and number

on the Photovoice Response Questions sheet. The participant renamed the title of the photo

with the question number when he or she included the image as an attachment in the email.

Participants submitted the photos to an email address I specifically created to receive

photovoice responses. The consumer signed at the bottom of the consent form stating

whether the researcher had permission to use the participant’s photos for data analysis and/or

visual use in the presentation of the research results.

Photovoice originated as a public health research technique used in various ways to

document and reflect reality through community-based participation (Given, 2011;

Nykiforuk, 2011). The goal for this project was to understand consumer attitudes and

perceptions on food at the West Side Market through visual storytelling. Participants were

given instructions, prompts, and contact information to support them in the photovoice

process. The participants were asked to submit their photos and responses within seven days

from the date they signed consent to use any verbal, written, or visual data provided.

Participants received a $5 gift card from Amazon (via email) after they completed and
31
submitted their photovoice responses. Compensation was used to encourage individuals to

complete the project and as an expression of gratitude for their participation. However, the

photovoice project was challenging when I did not receive responses from people who

committed to the project. The participants’ commitment to the photo task did not guarantee

the completion and submission of individual responses. The lack of participant responses did

not affect other data that was collected, although the photos and written responses were

projected to be a focal point of the project. Thus, involving as many customers as possible

was crucial for future data analysis.

Choosing the Appropriate Methods

The research question and methods fuse observable outcomes between vendors,

customers, food, and space. My methods were appropriate for answering the research

question on how people choose what to eat because it focused on understanding people’s

perspectives to discern food consumption behaviors without definitive associations. An

individual person or a collective community do not always share a common purpose or

motivation to serve social and personal dietary needs. The methods aim to identify

supporting reasons and themes on food behavior. My approach was both comprehensive and

holistic. The research question alone guided my methods to actively engage with people’s

viewpoint (knowledge plus experience) on food choice not otherwise prevalent in other

methodologies. It was necessary for me to identify and eliminate any assumptions or biases

from my own food consumption behaviors and beliefs. Other common anthropological or

sociological methodologies may be deemed more useful to research food consumption

behavior, but I determined the methods for my project to show where people purchase food,

what they purchase, how much they purchase, and reason of purchase and consumption.
32
Limitations & Benefits

The limitations and benefits of the methodologies are considered throughout data

collection and analysis. The photovoice project is often used in an ongoing longitudinal study

(Given, 2011). I adapted the photovoice project to accommodate the time I had to collect data

at the West Side Market. The traditional approach to photovoice first directs researchers to

partner with people from the community to determine goals and objectives of the project

(Given, 2011). However, consumers come to the Market from international, national, state,

and local regions. Thus, it is difficult to form a group and requires more time to build rapport

and facilitate a collective conversation. Furthermore, photovoice groups often include minor

sessions to train participants with photo techniques to capture quality images. The photovoice

approach in this study allows participants to use their digital technology (i.e., cell phones,

cameras, etc.) which ranges in different brands, functions, resolutions, etc.

Also, I did not want people to influence one another with personal opinions or

knowledge on food choice or the West Side Market in order to fit in with a community of

consumers and other societal norms. As a consequence, participants were only involved for

photo-taking and explaining their visual and verbal response to questions in one phase of the

original photovoice approach. However, relying on photovoice respondents was debatable.

Other limitations include: time commitment, flexibility and patience required of participants,

and overcoming challenges to visually capture abstract ideas (Amos, 2012). In hindsight,

photovoice limitations are important to consider when addressing participant safety,

communicating to a diverse audience, and balancing the research project goals with the needs

and abilities of photovoice participants.


33
My applied anthropological approach to photovoice is beneficial to participants. The

method uplifts individual voices and profoundly situate them into a familiar environment to

thoroughly think, learn, and challenge their everyday food ideologies and behaviors when

acquiring food. In addition, the method empowers, allows community members to showcase

their point of view, and think outside their personal lens on food and into perspectives of

other people, communities, and the world as a whole (Amos, 2012). With modern

technological advancements, photography equipment was not expensive because participants

used their cellular device. However, the study considered the possibility of an individual who

may not own or have access to a cell phone or internet access to email visual and written

responses. Overall, a key beneficiary of photovoice is the power to share research and

involve the community because personal involvement creates a sense of belonging (Amos,

2012). People’s lives and communities are affected every day in a way which determines

how people react to the intensity of uncontrollable factors. This includes the interjection of

processed food and the diminishment of natural food staples (Russell et al., 2014).

Ethical Considerations

Consumer and vendor participation involved no risks and can withdraw their data

from the study at any moment in time. Participant information is held confidential at all times

in respect to dignity, privacy, and interests. The researcher does not use participant

information for personal gain nor disclose any identifiable responses and actions to anyone.

This study uses fictitious names of no associated meaning to replace the participant’s name to

protect their identity. Aware of individual accounts, the researcher made consumer and

vendor stories unidentifiable without changing the meaning of collected data. I conserve the

audience of the research project to avoid improper use of account details respondents chose
34
to share with the researcher. Each participant signed an informed consent form to further

protect identity, personal integrity, and disclosed information if unexpected occurrences

unfold.

Conclusion

The methods I chose offered participants a range of questions to choose from and

respond to in their own words. I considered the benefits, limitations, and ethical issues used

in the study because all factors effected my findings. Unexpected incidences may unfold at

any point in time during fieldwork. To fully embark on research, one has to understand the

ins and outs of the utilized methodologies and the population. A previous ethnographic

research method course exposed me to the facets of being aware of cultural and personal

biases throughout the process of research design. However, in and out of the field researchers

need to critically think about the logistics to further the process of research.
35
Chapter 5

Results

In this chapter, the following presentation of ethnographic data intends to answer the

central research question on how people choose the food they eat. I organized the following

raw data from participant observation, interviews, and photovoice into three conceptual

sections: 1.) Presence of Consumers & Vendors, 2.) Consumer & Vendor Perceptions of the

Public Market & Food, and 3.) Interaction with People & Food Practice. I report findings that

correlate to answer the sub-questions on people’s food choice behaviors and explanations to

lay out the representation of how people choose the food they eat:

➢ How do consumer experiences affect the level of engagement with place, space, and

people when acquiring food?

➢ How do social relationships affect dietary patterns and perceptions on food?

➢ Why does food choice influence everyday living or lifestyle?

I first introduce the customers from the semi-structured interviews and interject statements

and other responses from vendors, followed by visual and written expressions from the

photovoice participant.

Presence of Consumers & Vendors

Consumer experiences affect the level of engagement with place, space, and people

when acquiring food. Matthew, an enthusiastic customer, does not come to the West Side

Market often because he is not from the Cleveland area. However, Matthew visited because

he heard great experiences about the West Side Market and decided to come during holiday

travel. Matthew compared the Market to a similar experience back home, the Milwaukee

Public Market, and also to a public market in Hungary. Matthew goes there more often
36
because it is available and accessible by car. Matthew described his first impressions of the

public space in one word while looking out to the view of the West Side Market,

“INCREDIBLE!”

Frank, his brother, and great niece and nephew are from Cleveland and still reside in

the area and drive to the Market on an irregular schedule. Frank comes to the West Side

Market once a month as a special treat. He is fond of the Market because it reminds him of

the few years he spent in Italy during seminary years of study. In particular, Frank studied in

Rome and has been a priest since returning to the United States years ago. However, Frank

continued to explain that breakfast in Italy was not the same in the United States, in which he

would have never thought to eat Nutella in the morning. He stated, “…the experience

influenced what I would eat anywhere because of the additives in packaged food.” As he

looked at his niece who was eating Nutella and strawberries with her brother, he laughed

while stating “My niece says she would love to eat Nutella for breakfast.” He ended his

explanation with, “The world today is not what it used to be.”

The nostalgia of the market weighed on Frank as he illustrated his accessibility to

Marcs, Aldi, and Acme Farm Market. He prefers to purchase groceries among those three

locations, but looks for specials, other deals, and the freshest meats, fruits, and vegetables at

the time he goes to acquire food. Frank usually explores food options and often makes a

decision depending on what is needed. For instance, he was at the Market buying Christmas

gifts.

Similar to Frank, a retired police captain named Leonard grew up in Cleveland.

Leonard shopped for he and his “lady-friend,” Sheila, when he sat next to me on the balcony

while holding his camera and smart phone. He recently came back from a 10-day trip in Paris
37
with Sheila. During his youth he ate liver and onions (particularly goose liver) from Giant

Eagle and enjoyed the flavors. Leonard ate it in France with pâté to summarize that the food

was the “Best ever!”

However, Leonard came to the market to find a similar food, he found a liver pâté at a

German meat stand. He showed me the meats in a clear plastic bag where distinct colors,

textures, and aromatic ingredients were noticeably different. I could see the fine natural herbs

and vegetables. Leonard tasted a sample of veal with herbs and pork with onion at the stand

before buying both. With consideration of the food seller, I spoke with a vendor with dual

title as chef and food educator who built the foundation of her food service through social

networks. Linda is a charismatic cheese vendor and explained in her mission the necessity to

educate people and encourage them to try new foods when potential customers come to the

stand. She did not refer to her customers regarding financial gains, but as an opportunity to

have individuals taste, try, and sample an assortment of cheeses that come from all over the

world. Linda reiterated how more connections are created when you learn as you go. As

Linda ended her thought, she posed her viewpoint, “I’m like a cheerleader for my customers.

I shoot for an interactive experience.”

Consumer & Vendor Perceptions of the Public Market & Food

Social relationships affect dietary patterns and perceptions on food. I interviewed

Esmerelda who sat alone in the middle of the balcony area with a green juice smoothie in her

right hand and her phone in the left. She is from Puerto Rico and came to Cleveland to visit

her family after Hurricane Maria caused severe damage and devastation across the land.

Esmerelda’s family and friends were safe.


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Esmerelda never been to the market and described her first impression as “…big and

varies in food type and quality… I feel there is double the food here.” The selection of food

and the variety at the Market is distinguishable. Esmerelda explained it as a place where she

can buy groceries and something to eat at the same time. However, the supermarket or fresh

mart is preferable with organic food to purchase groceries. Specifically, Esmerelda looks for

gluten-free and organic food while keeping processed food to a minimum, although she

stressed it is difficult. Esmerelda usually shops for food alone because she lives by herself,

therefore, she can “…go whenever or where [she] can.”

Matthew prefers to shop at markets because he looks for variety and quality too.

Matthew emphasized his accessibility to get the staple foods he needs, in addition to

preferable food quality and freshness. He “loves” the variety at the Market and credits the

cultural diversity.

Frank grew up near the East Side Market in Cleveland and proposed the feeling that

“…although it was not as big as the West Side Market, I could walk through when it was

convenient.” He continued to enhance his past experience by depicting the “…green grocer

next door [to the East Side Market], which was seasonal, but made grocery shopping even

more convenient.” Frank usually goes to the West Side Market on his own. He likes the

variety of food and the people who continue to work at the West Side Market, however, there

are many vendors retiring. He thinks “…the new shops are okay.” Overall, the place is

genuine to him in the sense that the Market fosters old ways of shopping with new ideas and

people who work with energy and commitment. He expressed, “In general, it is a good place

to spend money. I really like the Smokehouse, fish, and vegetables.” In further response to

what he likes about the Market, “I am generally influenced by looking for specific items
39
whenever I am [here].” In contrary, he dislikes the parking because it “…all depends on

chance.” However, he states the market will redo the parking lot soon.

Customers come and go at the West Side Market, but vendors and their food services

remain relatively constant. For instance, a woman named Nicoletta, in diary services,

describes the Market as the “greatest, old-world, food-mega capital.” The vendor perceives

her role as an ambassador to Cleveland because we [the vendors] entertain people and tell

them about our items. Similar to Linda, Nicoletta explains her vendor role from the point of

view as a chef needing to exceed customer expectations. In order to guarantee customer

satisfaction, Linda thinks her impact on consumer behaviors derives from a transparent

approach between selling food items and where the cheeses come from—all of the ins and

outs—including country of origin, tasting profile, and how the 200 cheeses are made.

Interaction with People & Food Practice

Food choice influences everyday living or lifestyle. Matthew paused to think about

how [he], as the consumer, influences food service establishments versus the food

distribution system that is controlled by farmers and food companies as part of a larger food

system. In return, he explained:

“As a customer we are asking for and buying local. Accessibility can be difficult. I
love the concept of how we can get food in various ways but it is multifaceted and
delicate, especially when it comes to take food home [from a market] because it is
fresh.”

In response to the same question, Frank voiced:

“Customers simply encourage what is sold. For instance, I like to buy for my niece
and nephew. I don’t need a lot. I have had good and bad experiences with fresh
ingredients like spices, fruits, and vegetables, but knowing what you’re getting makes
a big difference. When I bring the kids here they get to see fresh cuts of a pig that
they would never see and recognize at a fast food restaurant. The look in their eyes is
priceless because it registers in their mind.”
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He continues to explain that his understanding on food distribution comes from his friend

who sells and distributes to all stores in Northeast Ohio. Frank detailed his friendship with

Samuel who constantly distributes fruits and vegetables from Erie to Toledo by train and

truck, to and from his store. Frank shared that the produce mainly comes from Mexico and

other areas in South America. He then stated, “It’s average food when compared to some of

the specialties here at the Market, but you get a taste of both worlds.”

An employee of a vendor who sells coffee described the West Side Market in terms

of opportunity with good people. She views the West Side Market as a place where people

from all over come experience and engage in conversation while moving product interactions

because, at the same time, the Market is a grand family with long-lasting friendships. From

Linda’s vending experience, she highlights multiple ways social networks effect the service

her and the employees provide. A couple who are aspiring actors recently moved from

Cleveland to New York and came to the Market every week with five dollars in their pocket.

The couple came to the cheese stand every time and went through half of the cheese

selections. The couple requested a small amount sufficient for taste and only bought a small

amount for home. In other instances, Linda’s connection with other chefs brings them to her

stand when they are changing menus. Her role as a vendor is illustrated in how she creates a

cheese sampling for the chefs, meanwhile, observes people’s expressions when trying

something new.

From farmland, to grocery stores, and cooked meals on a table, Leonard discussed a

cooking class Sheila and he took with a professional chef in France. The three met at an

outdoor market when the chef, asked, “What are we making today?” The chef shared some

ideas and the group picked ingredients right from the market and directly marched to the
41
kitchen to cook. After the food was cooked into a delectable meal, the chef, Leonard and

Sheila, and other group pairings set-up a dining table. The complex duo pairings ate, talked,

and cleaned up the dinner table as a collective group, including the chef.

Leonard’s wife passed away nine years ago and he began to learn and cook

afterwards. In time, Leonard regularly cut-out and saved recipes from the newspaper or

morning journal and started to add his own twist to the recipes. He stated that his new-found

interest gradually became a hobby. Later on, Leonard entered recipes and new inventions

into contests. For instance, strawberry and raspberry jam with cinnamon was a “delicious

success.” Leonard proudly advertised the jam’s festive appeal as a suitable spread for the

holiday season. Even more so, he additionally purchases 8 ounce jars, cooks a large batch of

jam and creates homemade gifts for family. He explained the modification of the jam recipe

because the jam was originally supposed to be rhubarb, but the plant is not in season during

the winter. In addition, Leonard reminisced on how he made zucchini bread with walnuts and

blueberries. The recipe won blue ribbons in a county food fair and festival. The local

gathering is an annual event which started in the nineteenth century.

In harmony to long-lived events, the public markets are significant in metropolitan

areas like Cleveland. Linda rejoiced in her answer to explain where all the heart and

enjoyment comes from for the Market:

“Family-owned places. That meat stand [points] has been there for over 100 years. A
few stands down, the daughter now owns her mother’s stand. There’s a picture of her
[the daughter] sleeping underneath the counter while her mom worked. There are
many families here who have owned their stands from past generations.”

Marcus responded to the significance of the West Side Market question while

handing me a pecan cookie from a vendor nearby. As a seller and employee of a meat

vendor, he serves approximately 100 customers per day/employee during regular business
42
days (Monday and Wednesday), however, the weekend peaks to 300 customers per employee

during the weekend. The West Side Market is a place he describes as cultural and instills

“warm fuzzies”—a comfortable and happy feeling that is accompanied with laughter.

Consequently, the Market, as Marcus explains, is family.

“People come into this culture where [this] business is team and family oriented,
meaning we also take care of our customers like family. On the other hand, the
Market is always busy on Friday and Saturday mornings. It was busy a long time ago
too. This year there are two vendors retiring who worked here for 60 years. There will
be a big party for them.”

In addition, Marcus encapsulates the West Side Market and themselves as vendors and

individual people who are a friendly bunch, approachable, and open to any and all questions

and conversation. Vendors engage in conversation with both customers and vendors equally.

One vendor discussed with me what they notice about customer purchasing behavior, in

which Linda responded: Satisfaction. Linda personally seeks to “read” people because

“…looking beyond the picture…” of who’s in front of her leads to more content. For

instance, she can narrow 200 cheeses down to 12 based on texture, taste and pairing of food.

She expressed moments where customers might say “I don’t know.” However, Linda uses

her understanding of cheese to recommend customers to other booths around the Market. Her

knowledge on cheese extends to other vendor services because her food back ground taught

her that every cheese has some sort of pairing. Linda’s interaction with her customers also

stems from excitement when people visually and verbally reveal “aha moments” on their

face.

Photovoice as an Individualized Lens on Food Choice

A total of ten photovoice participants were asked to participate in the project. The

photovoice participants referred to the photovoice prompt and set of instructions after they
43
signed the consent form. Only one photovoice participant submitted a complete set of photos

and brief responses to the list of questions. Lynn stood at a seafood stand with her head titled

sideways when I approached her. Lynn clutched the orange purse strap near the top of her

shoulder while looking at the row of silver fish in front of her. One of the photovoice

questions asked Lynn, “What might be a major concern for someone who might not have

proper access to a grocery store, market, convenient store, etc.?” (See below). Lynn originally

expressed her concern about what she eats and questioned what constitutes as a food if there

are many preservatives and other additives [we] people do not know what they are, what they

are for, yet alone know how to pronounce. She further articulated in written text, “Lack of

fresh vegetables and fruit. Lack of fresh meat. Lack of food which is preservative-free,

pesticide/herbicide-free, non-GMO.”

Photo Credit: Photovoice Participant, Lynn; Photovoice Image Response #15 at the West
Side Market in 2017
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In addition, Lynn continued to explain one thing she has not eaten that she saw at the market

(See below). She sympathized, “I have not eaten seafood from the market, because I have an

allergy to it. However, it is still fun for me to see all of the colorful and fascinating seafood.

They all look so fresh. I enjoy seeing other people who do love the seafood get excited over

these.”

Photo Credit: Photovoice Participant, Lynn; Photovoice Image Response #12 at the West
Side Market in 2017

In response to “How do you decide if a food item is worth buying?” (See Appendix J,

Figure 1). Lynn “…decides if a food item is worth buying according to whether or not it is

organic and fresh. Price is very important in my decision in buying food. How delicious a

food item looks affects whether or not I buy it.” In Photovoice Response Question #9 (See
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Appendix J, Figure 2), she describes a past or current food trend that directly or indirectly

affected her lifestyle. Lynn “…would read about organic vegetables aiding those with health

issues by cutting out preservatives and pesticides. There was an improvement in my health

after going organic, so this directly affected my lifestyle by converting me to buy organic

foods. West Side Market has the largest selection and best prices of organic vegetables.”

Lynn refers back to preservatives, pesticides/herbicides, and GMOs, “…all of which are

unhealthy for the human body...,” when responding to “What is the impact of technological

advancement in relation to food?” (See Appendix J, Figure 3) She criticized, “Long travel

distances minimize the freshness of food, put local farmers out of business, and pollute the

environment with greenhouse gases.”

Lynn is optimistic about how food purchasing might change in the future. (See

Appendix J, Figure 4). Her remark on “…purchasing food in the future will hopefully change

to being more from local farmers at all stores and restaurants. Local food increases the

freshness, because the travel-distance and time-to-market is lessened. Increasing the market

for local farming allows farming to be lucrative, which encourages farming as a livelihood.

Using local food reduces greenhouse gases associated with long-distance transportation of

food.” In response to “What is the difference between food purchasing at a public market

versus a grocery store?” (See Appendix J, Figure 5). Lynn comments on how “…the public

market is a much more fun and social atmosphere. The interior is beautiful at the public

market versus the ugly unimaginative interior of a grocery store. There are more choices of

foods. The food is more fresh. The food is a much lower price than typical grocery stores.

Buying the local food helps local farmers.” In addition to the physical attributes of the

Market, Lynn observed what was around her while at the West Side Market. (See Appendix
46
J, Figure 6). She described the social and physical environment, in which “…the social

atmosphere is very fun, because it is filled with people and most seem to be in good moods.

The social atmosphere is interesting and appealing to me, because it is multicultural. People

from many various cultures that I may not see all at once in other venues of the city. The

physical environment is attractive due to beautiful architecture and many colorful foods

nicely displayed.”

In Photovoice Response Question #3 (See Appendix J, Figure 7), Lynn states, “The

space promotes good health, because it is a very clean facility and the food is fresh. There is

a large quantity and large variety of food choices. There are more vegetables than I have ever

seen at any other store. There are many organic vegetables. The meats and breads are

homemade and fresh with very few preservatives and pesticides. There are very few

processed foods of any kind.” She goes on to classify this space of the West Side Market as a

beautifully constructed building with profound history, an exhibition of food, and “a

multicultural social experience.” (See Appendix J, Figure 8). Lynn further discusses her

enjoyment at the West Side Market in Photovoice Question Response #7 (See Appendix J,

Figure 9) based on “…the pretty architecture and attractive interior design…” In addition,

she enjoys “…socializing with the sellers and other shopper…, the large variety of foods as

well as the unique and unusual foods…, how fresh the food is and the large selection of

organic vegetables. The inexpensive prices are enjoyable and necessary for me. All of these

aspects surpass that of typical food stores.”

She reiterates food items that are prominent in her daily consumption: “Organic

vegetables are prominent in my daily consumption.” (See Appendix J, Figure 10). Lynn can

only acquire a few types of organic vegetables at typical grocery stores and they are
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expensive. There are many more types of organic vegetables at West Side Market than at a

typical grocery store, and even more than at Whole foods or Earthfare. The organic

vegetables at West Side Market are substantially less expensive than any other store.” When

expressing how people connect through food in Photovoice Question Response #4 (See

below), Lynn states that “…shoppers at the Market seemed to talk more freely with one

another than at other typical food stores. I hear people discussing unique food items. I hear

discussion about how best to store and cook the food. I hear people sharing views about the

free samples. The sellers at the Market are more conversational than employees at typical

food stores.”

Photo Credit: Photovoice Participant, Lynn; Photovoice Image


Response #4 at the West Side Market in 2017
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In Photovoice Response Question #6 (See Appendix J, Figure 11), “What food evokes

memories, if any?” Lynn refers to fresh vegetables. “We used fresh vegetables from local

outdoor markets throughout the countryside to make homemade soup often. Homemade soup

reminds me of happy childhood memories with my family.” While at the Market, Lynn

discovered a type of food advertisement that caught her attention. (See below). “The food

itself is a nicely arranged, attractive, and colorful advertisement which catches my attention. I

like the attractive homemade signs which describe details about each food item.”

Photo Credit: Photovoice Participant, Lynn; Photovoice Image


Response #8 at the West Side Market in 2017

Lynn engages with the senses and explicates her answers in a resolute manner. Her

hopes, concerns, and personal knowledge on food is present in thorough, written and visual
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detail. The photovoice methodology is the vehicle that sets the epitome for engaged

participatory action in the aptness of applied anthropology in the analysis section.

Conclusion

I interviewed vendors and customers at the West Side Market. I randomly sampled

customers and vendors from the following food categories: dairy, bakery, fruits and

vegetables, meats and poultry, specialty, prepared foods, and spices, nuts, and oils. All of the

participants described the West Side Market, food experiences, and interactions in their own

words. The idea and act of food choice raise questions referring to consumer experiences,

social relationships, critical social and cultural issues, and the influence of food choice in

everyday life. The original hypothesis proposes that dietary habits are shaped by learned,

social behaviors. My findings report on food choice interactions and attitudes at the West

Side Market.
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Chapter 6

Analysis & Discussion

The purpose of this chapter is to analyze and discuss the results of food choice with

consumers and vendors at the West Side Market. This study established a framework to

prove if dietary habits develop from learned, social behaviors. Thus, in this chapter, I draw

upon my literature review on social (Hardcastle et al., 2015; Russell et al., 2014),

psychological (Hardcastle et al., 2015; Hoffmann, 2006; Holtzman, 2006; Miller et al., 2015;

Sutton, 2001, 2010), and cultural processes (Moffat & Finnis, 2010) and theory chapter

(Bisogni et al., 2002; Furst et al., 1996; Garro, 2000; Sobal & Bisogni, 2009) to explain how

people decide what to eat. I analyze my results through various theoretical lenses. The study

uses Hofstede’s (Garro, 2000) cultural model theory to explain how the mind functions

within a set of cultural values. The study uses the food choice process model (Garro, 2000) in

relation to the cultural model theory. The ideologies expand on personal experiences that

shape and form decisions during food acquisition. The cultural schema theory (Garro, 2000)

elaborates on the direction of individual thought and behavior by the nature of cultural

knowledge. The social constructionist theory (Bisogni et al., 2002; Furst et al., 1996; Sobal &

Bisogni, 2009) compliments the other theories and models to engage with collective

experiences. This includes social and cultural encounters with and amongst other individuals.

Thus, the study explores food choice by analyzing consumers’ attitudes and vendor

motivations through a sociocultural lens. First, I describe the field experience to provide an

outside view on the description of the community culture. Then, I organize the analysis into

themes, including place, family, education, time, memory, and nostalgia. I explain new
51
understandings after I consider the results from the data collection in further detail in the

conclusion.

Engaging the Senses

I argue that the field experience is necessary to further consider in this study. As such,

in this section, I describe the environment at the West Side Market from an objective point of

view and demonstrate various interactions with people and the surrounding vendor booths.

The consumption of food is not only a daily occurrence, but omnipresent. We must

acknowledge various impressions of an environment on food choice and how people respond

to finalize a food decision. The experience a customer engages in deposits senses—smell,

sight, taste, hearing, and touch—into the process of deciding what to eat.

“The West Side Market is a beautiful museum filled with healthy fresh inexpensive
food. There is beautiful architecture, rich history, attractive and interesting exhibits of
food, and a multicultural social experience. This is in direct contrast to a typical
grocery store where the architecture is not interesting, the foods are not healthy or as
fresh, and most people are in bad moods.”

-Lynn, Photovoice Participant at the West Side Market

Arriving on Monday morning around six, muffled noises of background holiday

music, ongoing conversations, screeching carts, and the simple yet loud sound of a classic,

un-customized telephone ring present the milieu of the West Side Market. A woman in a

wheelchair situates herself at the corner sidewalk in front of the outdoor market building.

Wrapped in a black coat, she rings a bell as the man next to her holds and discloses a “Feed

the Hungry” sign. Distant voices pervade the air near the truck unloading dock. Before I

knew it the man with the sign held the glass metal door open for me to enter the “outside”

vending area, but I put the change I had at the time into the carrier next to the woman. The

man tips his Santa hat and I reciprocate with “Thank you!”
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Consumers have the option to go straight or turn right, so I chose the longest

pathway: Right. The produce vendors were behind their stands organizing fruits, like grapes,

apples, pineapple, raspberries, blueberries, and lemons. Some vendors also had vegetables,

like celery, potatoes, carrots, lettuce, and green beans. Customer’s heads move back and forth

as they stare at the produce. Vendors and customers make eye contact and exchange “Hello”

and “How are you today?” Four people scatter the pathway at different stands. Two people

stand next to each other in front of the stand while talking to one of the vendors. The other

two stand on their own; specifically, the woman visually inspects a row of pineapples and

spiky tropical fruits next to it as the man hand selects sweet potatoes a few stands aside.

Multiple sets of glass metal doors interject between a couple of stand groupings that lead

outside. I take a few steps across the alley way open another set of glass metal doors into the

“inside” market. The red brick floors are wet, the air cold, and the view above me opens up

to dim lighting. Looking left and right, I follow the opening pathways to where a few vendors

are quickly unpacking meat from tall metal carts and then out of the box coolers. I walk the

continuous pathways that equivocally creates square-shape boxes around a cluster of vending

stands every few feet. I eventually find a side exit that leads to the main street when I look

out the glass metal doors, and then a staircase to my left. A sign directs people to the

bathrooms with an arrow pointing down and an arrow pointing up to the balcony area and

office management.

The Market activity increases around nine o’clock every Monday and Wednesday

morning and even earlier on Friday’s. Few customers walk around beforehand, either in

pairings or groups of two. People dressed in suits walk towards multiple exits holding a cup

of coffee. A female figure and child walk around the market passing both a younger and
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older couple. Two men watch a vendor prep their food display with intricate pastries and

chocolate desserts (See Appendix K, Figure 1). The stand, among a few others, are festive

and decorated with Christmas lights and candy canes. My observation was interrupted by

meat vendors shouting at one another from each side of the market. I continue to observe as

they begin to walk towards one another and begin singing and laughing. The tones of both of

the men are vivid, but the Market’s cathedral ceiling diffuses any word I could potentially

hear. I refocus my attention on the two individuals as they return to their stands. I walk past

the two meat stands to pass another meat vendor and one following it. I continue to walk

around to realize a majority, if not all, meat vending stands concentrate in the middle of the

market setting.

This engaged form of participant observation emphasizes the importance of human

behavior before, during, and after food acquisition. People examine, hold, and talk about

food within a set of parameters. The vendors create opportunities for consumers to observe,

engage, and contemplate a purchase and point of consumption with the available food at the

stands. This is a mobile environment where consumers gauge their wants and needs. People

experience the process of food choice at various locations where human activity and

viewpoints interact.

A Place for Food & People

The West Side Market attracts consumers from different locations.

“When people are at the Market, it is as if people are travelling the world. In an open
and friendly place like the West Side Market, we get a lot of people who taste food
from various ethnic backgrounds. Customers get the chance to taste and talk with
people who create an experience from their own personal history more often than not
and that includes their stories, heritage, and overall passion for food.”

- Reese, Employee at a Specialty Stand at the West Side Market


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A place that contains food mediates human experiences (Garro, 2000). The West Side

Market is a public icon that has an important seat in serving a diverse community.

Esmerelda, Leonard, Frank, Lynn, and Matthew travelled across town, the United States, and

around the world to be at the West Side Market. The scene within the Market is conveyed as

positive and exceptional. The manner of how people describe the Market creates symbolic

meaning. Nicoletta described the place as the “greatest, old-world, food-mega capital.” When

we closely look at the individual pairing of words, the vendor’s perception of the Market

emulates social status; for it is seen to be well-known and above average to any other place

that provides a food service. Also, “food-mega capital” might associate with the literal size of

the Market or a figurative statement to express its popularity. The cultural schema theory

explains “innate mental structures” (Garro, 2000, p. 284) that measure, process, and organize

information in form of mental coding, or in the circumstance of describing the Market.

Consumers constructed a pattern of thought into one word to communicate the perception

(Garro, 2000). The Market is a food destination and a homestead for specialized and every-

day services in Cleveland.

The Market is a food symbol for the atmosphere, architecture, and family-oriented

space.

“Family-owned places. That meat stand [points] has been there for over 100 years. A
few stands down, the daughter now owns her mother’s stand. There’s a picture of her
[the daughter] sleeping underneath the counter while her mom worked. There are
many families here who have owned their stands from past generations.”

- Linda, Dairy Vendor at the West Side Market

Frank comes to the West Side Market once a month as part of routine with his brother and

great niece and nephew. The family tradition is an expectation among the children, a special

occasion for the brothers to spend time together, and a time to shop for fresh fruits and
55
vegetables (Hoffmann, 2006; Sutton, 2001). Matthew’s experience back home at the

Milwaukee Public Market is a strong example of a consumer experience that affects the level

of engagement with place, space, and people when acquiring food. He is able to access both

Markets by car, but the ramification of his food choice behavior stems from familiar and

regular food experiences he speaks highly of and references. Matthew’s perception of public

markets is transnational when he speaks of public open-air markets in the United States and

Europe.

Matthew’s attitude toward food does not parallel with social relationships, but with

dietary pattern, multiplicity, and personal interest in exploring food scenes associated with

historical and cultural characteristics. Matthew’s previous knowledge and experiences

encompass the food choice process model. As Furst et al. (1996) emphasized, food choice

decisions are a trajectory of life course, influences, and personal system in unison. The

social, cultural, and physical environment a person has been exposed to drive life course and

food decisions, or essentially a lifestyle (Furst et al., 1996). In this case, the cultural model

theory dismisses the influence of other cultures in Matthew’s personal attitudes. But, he

developed a purpose to socialize where he is and engage with other customers and vendors

out of curiosity. A key component of this at the West Side Market is a safe and secured space

in which people feel comfortable and trusting in the customer service (conversation and

action of purchase) and quality of product (consumption and consumer satisfaction). The

West Side Market is a valuable location and influential variable that determines what food

people can choose. Visual ideas and actions stimulate the process of food choice, but not a

sole determinant of a food choice decision. The Market is a strategic design and concept
56
depicted as a showcase for food and cultural diversity. There are many possibilities to

interact with components of culture—language, food, stories, values, and social norms.

Lynn elaborates the connection with food and place, in which “shoppers at the market

talk more freely than at other typical food stores.” The photovoice participant heard

discussion on unique food items and how best to store and cook particular food. Lynn

reinforces Sobal and Bisogni’s (2009) explanation of food choice as formative actions where

people “acquire, store, prepare, serve, and eat.” However, in order to acquire food people

first have to inquire. The idea or connection to ask someone for information on a food is a

transitional step in a larger process of food choice. Based on the information received, the

consumer continues or stops the process of a food decision. Yet, external variables, like

affordability, can influence whether or not the consumer purchases a food item. Thus, the

interest of food is peaked by interest. The food choice model explicates this initial action as a

single unit in the development of finalizing a food decision.

As discussed by Marcus (employee at a meat stand), the influence of culture in place

is immediate and immersive. Culture at the Market, in robust terms, is described as a

“showcase, diverse in language, ethnic, family and team oriented, a business affair, variety of

people, a lot of people, fast-paced, and immigrant communities” by vendors. There are

standards and beliefs that people, like vendors, upkeep within in one place of location.

Standards include safety, customer expectations, quality food and service, maintaining a

unique atmosphere, and upholding individual character. Personal attention to detail is

pertinent among different customers because knowledge about the Market varies between

visiting and regular customers. The physical place embodies a common ground where people

are the central focal point and food is the purpose of being present at this particular place at
57
the West Side Market. Food is a component of culture, expressed by people in terms of the

language one verbally speaks, relating to a locale and population subgroup, the physical

number of people present at the Market, and the building itself serving as a multicultural and

common space for people to meet.

The presence of consumers and vendors at the Market weigh no more or less than one

another, meaning both roles are significant in food acquisition. As Bisogni et al. (2002) and

Sobal & Bisogni (2009) highlight the food choice model incorporates food choice values

from a personal system that distinguishes the pros and cons of food prior to selection,

essentially food encounters are considerable as a whole within the dynamic environment. The

perception of how people value food is present in both consumer and vendor roles. However,

the representation of place or environment is found around history, tradition, and a belief

system. The West Side Market is a space that embodies all three.

The factors propagate a food culture from the vendors who sell various foods and

maintain food options and knowledge by consumers who come to buy, eat, share, and gift

food, like Frank and Leonard. Vendors display knowledge of what each stand sells and this is

supported when vendors speak with the customers to recommend pairings with the products

they initiate interest in. The vendors facilitate consumers in the process of making a food

choice decision. The nature of the Market is different from the nature of food bought at

grocery stores, supermarkets, and other food locations because people carry out an action

where as the Market experience is a series of small actions by other consumers who buy

food. The space allows for intentional interaction between customers and vendors.

Food Education, Quality, & Variety

“Our old-tag-line was “Try something new!” Instead, an educated consumer is your
best customer. It’s important to look at things sideways…”
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-Linda, Cheese Vendor at the West Side Market

The act of tasting and consuming a new food is an educational experience. People discover

and categorize what they like and do not like when they try something new. The opportunity

to taste a food before buying the item is a natural phenomenon at the Market. Taste tests are

not as common at a supermarket or other type of grocery store. Vendors communicate

information on the food item while people taste food and discuss anything else that comes to

mind. Most vendors share a sample of food with customers, which builds rapport and trust.

Vendors encourage consumers to communicate their thoughts and feelings in order for the

seller to effectively serve and find the right item and price.

Consumers act on new food decisions at a grocery store or supermarket by chance.

Food labels on grocery and packaged products are present to be “the voice” of a company or

producer who is not around. Store food products are brand focus rather than customer focus.

Thus, store brands have to catch the attention of customers when they scan shelves or look

for particular food items. Customers in-store are on a mission to go in and out of the store

with what they need. Some consumers at the West Side Market take their time looking at the

window displays in the main building. Vendors on the other hand encourage customers to

buy what they like, buy for special occasions, and explore food options. Linda previously

mentioned in exploration we learn not only what [we] like, but find ideas that may inspire

new ways of thinking about food, shopping, and cooking.

Leonard is a key example in understanding how someone decides what they eat

through self-motivation and investigation. Foremost, we see a dynamic role between family

and friends. Leonard decided to learn how to cook after his wife passed. There is reliance on

other individuals to provide food to eat. The dependence on a spouse, family member, or
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food service jeopardizes a person’s knowledge. People engage less in learning how to

prepare, cook, and store food. Food choice becomes limited based on personal skills and

knowledge that provides and completes the process of food choice.

People go out of a comfort zone when loss, hardship and other challenges arise. For

Leonard, learning to cook became a need to sustain a familiar lifestyle. The decision to cook

and learn is part of the food choice process, which gradually shapes food habits when

practiced regularly. In addition, we see food choices can result from a hobby. Leonard

exemplifies his passion and hunger to learn because he persistently finds, saves, and attempts

to cook recipes from paper sources, like the newspaper or morning journal. Although not a

cook book, public recipes are considered to be good and acceptable in food choice decisions.

The number of shared recipes in any form of text contribute to local cultural knowledge.

Leonard also demonstrates the notion of cultural knowledge through his recipe submissions

in local food fairs with prized winnings and unique tastes of strawberry and raspberry jam

with cinnamon. The activity also speaks to the nuance of tradition and generational

knowledge because the fair has been around since the nineteenth century.

The success of Leonard’s food choice findings and hobby continues in form of

(homemade) gift giving. His act of preparing food transitions into the form of sharing with

friends and family. The personal touch of food provision emulates food education in the care

and acknowledgement of quality. Leonard and his social group attain knowledge of the

ingredient content and have free will to then make it on their own, however, this is also

dependent on time, accessibility, and affordability of ingredients. Leonard’s interest and

confidence in cooking and sharing ideas on food is a psychological influence on eating

behavior which Hardcastle et al. (2015) includes as a social and environmental influence on
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food choice. Therefore, cooking directly correlates and predicts food choice, but not

necessarily the quality of health.

People have the opportunity to share their ideas, findings, and own recipes in turn

with implementing their own dietary eating habits with other people. The idea of food

sharing in form of recipe is a communicative piece that expands collective knowledge on

where, what, how, and why individuals can partake in one another’s food choices. There are

social pressures to buy healthier options with nutritional value (Russell et al., 2014), but the

connotation of “healthy” means fresh, diverse, unprocessed, and natural. Food behaviors do

change when people acquire knowledge on the foods they eat, but in contrary to Russell’s

remark on attitudes that remain consistent, prove differently. The constructionist social

definition theory frames individuals’ collective experiences when new ideas, knowledge, and

even images shake the psychological schema on food and subject it to another way of

thinking, which is a critical addition to the condition of memory and how unfamiliar foods

impact the senses.

The premise of space encapsulates various learning experiences between vendors and

consumers. The social interaction reinforces opportunity for people to learn. Linda’s cultural

knowledge on the history and practice of preparing, presenting, and eating cheese goes

beyond this particular food group. She facilitates food choice decisions when consumers are

unaware, unsure, or misunderstand the food itself and how to coordinate it properly for

meals, special occasions, and the equivalence of a sensational experience where various

flavors and conversation mix and match a gracious experience. However, Linda’s

recommendation of other booths expands people’s food knowledge and encourages

consumers to also try other foods. The decision to do so is then solely upon the customer.
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Frank simultaneously agrees in thought with Linda, in which customers do have the

final say in what they eat, but also with how consumers encourage demand for a food item.

His motivation to bring his niece and nephew to the Market is comparable to Russell et al.

(2014) discussion on the relationship between parents’ food choice motives and children’s

food preferences. However, the role of the parent, includes any guardian of a child, family

members, or close social ties of the sort. Frank is the great uncle to the children and

purposefully directs their attention to fruits, vegetables, and food they both have never seen

or heard of, like the fresh cuts of a pig. Frank embodies a social role that encourages

exploration to try new food and observe the unfamiliar (Russell et al. 2014). The children’s

exposure to a diverse food group at the West Side Market influences the potential food

choices they can make when they are older and independent. More so, the children may

recollect the food they shopped for and tasted during the time spent with family at the West

Side Market (Hoffmann, 2006; Sutton, 2001). Food choice does not only happen in the

moment, but as a life practice too.

Comparably, Frank and Linda share a motivation to excite members of their social

group through direct-indirect and formal-informal approaches. They aim for the priceless

“aha moments” on people’s faces—a nonverbal cue—to allow opportunity for people to

build connections, like the greater process of how food is made and transported, and come to

conclusions on their own viewpoint independently. Knowledgeable and misinformed local

consumers are both main concerns, as to why the vendor and consumer role are

simultaneously important in exemplifying a sustainable and maintainable lifestyle. This idea

of lifestyle, in terms of food, stems from a person’s attention to understand what they need in
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similar consequence as to what they want. More importantly, it is how a person goes about

attaining the food practice through strategy.

Time & Memory

“Fresh vegetables evoke memories for me. We used fresh vegetables from local
outdoor markets throughout the countryside to make homemade soup often. We did
so often. Homemade soup reminds me of happy childhood memories with my
family.”

-Lynn, Photovoice Participant at the West Side Market [Lynn italicizes the word
‘We’ to refer to her family]

Past social experiences from Lynn’s youth conclude the impact of food choice early

on in life. Lynn classifies her food choice with “fresh vegetables” and “local outdoor

markets.” This account is the epitome of a constructionist view (Bisogni et al., 2002; Sobal &

Bisogni, 2009) whose personal system reveals the value of food choice in past and present

routine (Sutton, 2001). In Lynn’s photovoice responses, she exemplifies the nutritional value

in her diet buy purchasing fruits and vegetables and cautious of food with potential

pesticides. Lynn’s experience within a family unit supports Sutton’s (2001) findings with the

Kalymnians, in which past exchanges deserve notice on present and future food practices

(Hoffmann, 2006).

Gift-giving is a consideration in food choice. Sutton (2001) render gifts of food and

counter-gifts do not create memory (Hoffmann, 2006). However, Leonard’s intention of gift-

giving contrasts with Sutton’s (2001) idea on the creation of memory with food. Leonard’s

action to think about a gift in terms of food, to make a handmade food item, package it, and

gift it to another person reveals other components of an individual food experience. Leonard

provides recipe information with the gift of food which highlights how he, as a consumer and

member of his inner social group of friends and family, influence knowledge on cooking
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food (Furst et al., 1996; Garro, 2000). The practice of cooking is routine for Leonard

(Bisogni et al., 2002; Sobal & Bisogni, 2009) and his strategy to provide gifts around the

holiday create a personalized experience for the gift recipient. Leonard did not discuss the

reaction of people receiving the gift. But, he reveals aspects of a constructionist view when

he interacts with other people’s food choice because the recipient accepts his gift. However,

Leonard shows the personal impact of gift-giving on him. He balances food choice values

between cooking with quality ingredients and sharing his recipes of quality ingredients

during special occasions and other celebrations, like Christmas (Bisogni et al., 2002; Russel

et al., 2014; Sobal & Bisogni, 2009). The commitment of giving a gift of food is a repeatable

food behavior that is prominent during common celebrations in societal culture. In retrospect,

the idea of gift-giving is transferrable to the loss transaction of food choice in terms of

recipes from a local culture or family history.

Time is precedent in the preservation of food traditions among groups of people, like

family or food heritage from an ethnic background. Leonard instills opportunity for his

personal recipes to be presented in public at food festivals or through the preparation of food-

giving as a gift. Although the behavior is through an American lens, the food act is a familiar

representation between people and businesses who create an identity for people to learn, buy,

choose, and consume (Moffat & Finnis, 2010). The transmission of personal and cultural

knowledge of food is distinct when a dietary habit is new, desirable, detrimental, or awaken

by the escape of attention and knowledge on food choice.

Nostalgia & Otherness

“I come here [to the West Side Market] once a month as a special treat. It reminds me
of the few years I spent in Italy during my seminary years of study. I studied in Rome
and have been a pastor since then. Breakfast in Italy was not the same in the U.S. I
would have never thought to eat Nutella in the morning, but the experience influenced
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what I would eat anywhere because of the additives in packaged food. My niece says
she would love to eat Nutella for breakfast. [Laughs and stares at his great niece and
nephew] The world today is not what it used to be.”

-Frank, Consumer at the West Side Market

The romanticization of the West Side Market is a common theme among vendors and

consumers. Frank’s remembrance of his time spent in Italy encourages his food choice

decisions. The Italian way of eating breakfast was an uncommon experience for Frank in

comparison to the United States. Both industrialized countries incorporate processed and

packaged food sales in stores, like Nutella (Moffat & Finnis, 2010). The idea of eating

chocolate, let alone any dessert containing sugar, is not part of his dietary habit to this day.

Yet, Frank did not curb his dietary habit to fit those of another culture or for a cultural

experience. His food choice decision to not eat a processed product derives from his personal

belief to not consume unnatural ingredients in food. Frank remembered the moment while his

great niece ate Nutella and strawberries. The dietary and health implications of processed

food is a concern for Frank (Russell et al., 2014). He refers to the use of additives in

packaged food to determine sufficient nutrient intake (Moffat & Finnis, 2010; Russell et al.,

2014).

The cultural mode theory frames Frank’s American and Italian food choice

experiences. Frank separates different the “Nutella-eating” experiences and categorizes them

into groups, like the food choice process model (Furst et al., 1996; Garro, 2000). More so, the

three factors of food decisions: 1.) life course, 2.) influences, and 3.) personal system—

reflect Frank’s livelihood in Italy and the United States. Frank encountered influences of

another food culture which depicts how he handled a daily event, like breakfast (Furst et al.,

1996; Hoffmann, 2006). This is a food moment that distinguishes Sutton’s (2001) theme of
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“whole events” which distinguishes the recollection of food during meals (Furst et al., 1996;

Hoffmann, 2006). Frank’s reason to allow his great niece to eat Nutella is not certain. But,

his other responses on food choice support his value of people, especially youths, to explore

food options that are apart from their daily food habits. Frank’s reaction to the sight of

Nutella created a psychological response due to a memory and experience he had elsewhere

(Hoffmann 2006; Sutton, 2001, 2010). Frank and his family show confidence in their food

choices when they adhere to their personal values.

Conclusion

Consumer food choice is a spectrum of behaviors and attitudes. Hofstede’s cultural

model theory provides insight of the sociocultural lens between food choice, the mind, social

relationships, and engagement with the environment. The food choice process model, cultural

schema theory, and constructionist social definition theory help frame the key themes this

study identifies from consumer and vendor responses in the ethnographic methods.

Photovoice did not portray all of the visual and written perceptions of consumer food choice.

But, the photovoice participant responses turned out to be an extension of informal

conversations with consumers. Both techniques prove significance in the study. The

consumer and vendor narratives on food choice demonstrates the impact of food choice

anecdotes in a set time and place.

In hindsight, people connect to food choice by inquiring interest on a particular food

conversation and in-depth thinking. Vendors incorporate conversational engagement with a

customer through informal conversation. In similar consequence, the presentation of an

approachable persona allows customers to visually and nonverbally interpret social cues or

whether they wish to commence verbal interaction. Consumer decisions are important
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because people ascribe an attitude throughout the food choice process. The key forces of

food choice include affordability, quality and nutrition, and diversity based on consumer and

vendor stories. The West Side Market suits those set of values, needs, and expectations in

consumer food choices.


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Chapter 7

Final Conclusion & Recommendations for Further Work

I presented attitudes on how people choose the food they eat through consumer

experiences and vendor motivations. Consumer attitudes show that people subsume a set of

expectations that mirror personal values when shopping for food. I find that consumers value

fresh, affordable, and accessible food before, during, and after acquisition and consumption.

More so, consumers’ expectations on what they are going to eat reflect in their attitudes on

how they are going to get food and where they acquire it. Thus, in the case of this research,

people come to the West Side Market for fresh quality food and a social experience. Some

consumers look for special food items at the Market, in which they engage in personal

narratives on their present relationships and past memories during food choice. For vendors,

their motivations stem from values on family which honor their memory, a lifetime of work,

or a legacy of food traditions. Other vendors find purpose and gratitude in serving consumers

from all backgrounds and ages through their passion of food. This study demonstrates how

different roles, like consumers or vendors, reinforce dietary patterns and perceptions,

especially when eating and learning about new food. Thus, people effect dietary habits and

shape ideas on food. Consumers and vendors engage with food options, senses, people,

space, history, and diversity at a location like the West Side Market.

In the continuation of this study, it would be interesting to replicate this research at a

standard U.S. grocery store. The central research question might remain the same (How do

people choose the food they eat?), the location could reveal different information on how the

environment may or may not have a significant role in food choice. How might consumer

attitudes differ or share similarities between a grocery store and a food market? What are
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cashier motivations and their impact on consumer behaviors? A subsequent study apart from

the West Side Market may focus on consumers who do not have the freedom to purchase

quality, affordable, and accessible food. How do values on food change in different food

environments? For example, a future study might consider how people choose what to eat in

a food desert. How are consumers threatened by the infrastructure of inequality and poverty?

How do consumers who have limited food options and access make use of available food,

food services, and public assistance?

Studies involving food is important so people have the opportunity to understand

what resources are present, the effect of food items, and local knowledge to maintain food

traditions and make necessary changes in a community. The way consumers choose food in a

metropolitan area does not necessarily equate to another region and city where the quality

and affordability of food is not feasible. Fresh, quality, variety, health-friendly ideas of food

encourage people to purchase a food. But, people choose what to eat by the degree of their

awareness in a food environment, when they are with people, and what is available. Food

choice is an observation and reflection of a self-practice in life with the remembrance of past

experiences and the perception of new ones. We learn about people and their lifestyle

practices as they share memories and personal stories. Personal narratives provide a gateway

for people to communicate similar and different ideas. People have the power to voice their

needs and ideas when people choose to listen to them with intent. We need the public to

listen to local voices everywhere. We nourish humanity with the food we eat, the knowledge

we feed one another, and the stories we share.


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List of Figures

Appendix A: Location & Layout of the West Side Market

Appendix A, Figure 1 (Below): Google Map of Downtown Cleveland and the West Side
Market; See Google Maps in References
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Appendix A, Figure 2 (Below): Ohio City Transportation Routes; See Ohio City Incorporated
in References
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Appendix A, Figure 3a (Below): Map of Market Vendor Stands; See Admin of West Side
Market in References
72
Appendix A, Figure 3b (Below): Food Groupings at the West Side Market; See Admin of the
West Side Market in References
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Appendix B: Informal Interview Questions with Vendors

Goal: To understand vendor motivations through personal experiences and own perceptions

on access to food, food trends, and social interactions

Special Note: Asterisks indicate that the question will definitely be asked.

1. *Please describe the West Side Market in your own words.

2. *How did you become a vendor at the West Side Market, and when?

a. How, if at all, has your perception of the service you are providing changed

since you first started at the West Side Market?

b. Do you wish to see anything change, further develop, or remain the same at

the market?

3. *What is your mission as a vendor?

a. *What does the food you sell mean to you? What do you think it means to

your customers?

4. *How would you describe your role at the market? Please specify your role and why.

5. *Where do you source your food and/or ingredients from and how do you look for

suppliers?

a. Personally, how do you decide what to sell?

b. How do you decide on the price of a food product?

c. *Since the West Side Market is not a seasonal market, what does the origin of

food, in terms of where food comes from, have to do with supply chain

transparency?

i. *What is the importance of reliability and traceability?

ii. Why has it become a big deal over past years?


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6. *On average, how many customers do you have during the day?

a. *What do you notice about customer purchasing behavior?

b. *What day is the busiest for you and at what time? Please explain why.

c. How do you accommodate for customer needs?

7. *How do you engage in conversation with a customer?

a. In what way might a customer feel encourage to purchase a food product from

you?

8. *How do you think people perceive food when shopping at a grocery store?

a. How do you think people perceive food when shopping at a public market?

b. *What misconceptions do you think people have on purchasing foods from a

grocery store versus a market setting? (e.g. famers market, public market, etc.)

9. *What are your thoughts on food tourism?

a. Do you recognize a change in presence or visibility at the market when people

explore the food scene? How so?

10. *In what way do social networks affect the service you provide?

a. Describe your interaction with other vendors, if any.

11. *Do you affiliate with a labor union?

12. *In what ways can consumers buy all or a majority of his or her groceries at a public

market versus a grocery store or general convenient store? Please explain how it

might be possible or difficult to do so.

13. *How do you think you are impacting consumer behaviors?

a. Positively? Negatively? Both?


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14. *What concerns do you have when it comes to the food industry, including

agriculture practices, production, manufacturing, processing, advertisement,

consumption, etc.?

15. *What is significant about public markets in metropolitan areas like Cleveland?
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Appendix C: Semi-Structured Informal Interview Questions with Consumers

Goal: To understand consumer experience when acquiring food and level of engagement

with place, space, and people

Special Note: Asterisks indicate that the question will definitely be asked.

1. *Are you from the Cleveland area? In/Out of state?

a. What form of transportation did you use to get to the market?

2. *Where do you prefer to purchase groceries? Why?

3. *How often do you come to the market? Why?

a. Are you a regular customer? If so, do you shop for groceries or purchase

specialty food?

b. *Who, if anyone, accompanies you to the market?

4. *Please describe your impressions when you first came to the market?

a. If this is a return experience to the market, how has it changed?

b. Specifically, what do you like about the market? Dislike?

5. *As part of a larger food system, explain how you (the consumer) influence food

service establishments versus the food distribution system that is controlled by

farmers and food companies?


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Appendix D: Photovoice Response Questions

Goal: To examine consumer attitudes at the West Side Market to visually understand values

through interactions of social, cultural, behavioral, and biological processes

1. Observe what is around you. Describe the social and physical environment.

2. How would you classify this space?

3. In what way does the space promote good health?

4. How do people connect through food?

5. Can you capture food items that are prominent in your daily consumption? Either

staples or commonly featured items.

6. What food evokes memories, if any?

7. What is something you enjoy about food shopping at the West Side Market?

8. What type of food advertisement catches your attention, if any?

9. Describe a past or current food trend that directly or indirectly effected your lifestyle.

10. What is the impact of technological advancement in relation to food?

11. How do you decide if a food item is worth buying?

12. Explain one thing you have not eaten that you see at the market.

13. How might purchasing food change in the future?

14. What is the difference between food purchasing at a public market versus a grocery

store?

15. What might be a major concern for someone who might not have proper access to a

grocery store, market, convenient store, etc.?


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Appendix E: Photovoice Project Prompts & Instructions

What is Photovoice?
• Photovoice is a public health research technique used in various ways to document
and reflect reality through community-based participation.

Project Goal: To understand consumer attitudes and perceptions on food at the West Side
Market through visual storytelling

Your Assignment: You are participating in a photovoice project to answer a number of


questions on attitudes and perceptions on food. Please take photos that best reflect your
responses, concerns, ideas, etc. based on the question stated. As a participant, you do not
have to respond to anything you do not want to answer. Please submit your photos and
responses within seven days. You receive a $5 gift card from Amazon (via email) after you
complete and submit your photovoice responses. Please read the following steps and prompts
below. Please refer to the consent form if you have any questions or concerns.

Step 1: Take Photos

Photo Prompt
• Your photos are meant to tell its intended story even when you are not around to
answer.
• When taking pictures, please keep this question in mind:
o How do I choose what I eat?

Instructions
• Use the camera function on your cellular or digital device to respond to the list of
questions provided on the separate document provided to you.
• Photos must be taken at Cleveland’s West Side Market.
• Take photos that best reflect your thoughts, feelings, reactions, etc. to the questions
being asked. Remember, you do not have to respond to any questions you do not want
to answer.
o The photos are not directed to be artsy, edited, or biased in its presentation.
• You are given the option to take one or two photos for each question if it is difficult
to take a photo that best articulates your response to a question.
• All pictures must be original and appropriate.
• Please do not:
o Take any pictures of people. The project is not meant to disturb others at the
market or make them uncomfortable.
o Take any pictures of prohibited actions or substances.
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Appendix E (Continued): Photovoice Project Prompts & Instructions

Step 2: Reflect & Write

Writing Prompt
• This step is to help process and detail your visual storytelling experience through
written message.
• When writing, please keep this question in mind:
o What do these photographs mean to you?

Instructions
• Discuss photographs and reflect on your experience in a way where your story can
continue to be told as you intended.
• Please write at least five sentences or more.
• Do not overthink it. Please write down any word and sentence your photo inspires
you to think and hope to convey.

Step 3: Send Photos & Responses

Instructions
• Please attach photos in an email.
• Rename the title of the photo with the question number when you include the image
as an attachment in the email.
• Type out the questions and your responses according to the question number on the
sheet provided.
• You submit photos and responses to the following email address:
photovoice17@gmail.com.
• You receive a confirmation email along with a $5 Amazon gift card when you
complete and submit the photos and typed responses.

Thank you!
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Appendix F: Transcript of Informal Interview Responses with Vendors

Special Note: Asterisks indicate fictitious name(s).

Researcher asked all vendors:

1. Please describe the West Side Market in your own words.

a. Dairy Vendor (#1):

i. “Iconic.”

ii. “Eclectic.”

iii. “Necessary. This is an anchor. A life time of workers are here.”

iv. “Undervalue – People come from everywhere and are mind blown.

Others don’t appreciate or understand the value.”

v. “Mind-bending.”

vi. “Diverse language.”

vii. “Famous for food.”

viii. “Every vendor is supported.”

ix. “Change. Getting people back down here.”

b. Dairy Vendor (#2):

i. “Greatest.”

ii. “Old-world.”

iii. “Food-mega capital.”

c. Specialty Vendor (#1):

i. “Unique atmosphere.”

ii. “Character.”

iii. “Unknown.”
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d. Specialty Vendor (#2):

i. “Friendly.”

ii. “Variety of people.”

iii. “Comfortable.”

e. Produce Vendor:

i. “Fast-paced.”

ii. “Meet a lot of people.”

iii. “Ethnic.”

iv. “A lot of work.”

f. Specialty Vendor (#3):

i. “European markets.”

ii. “Important.”

iii. “Showcase.”

iv. “Immigrant communities.”

v. “Privilege.”

g. Meat Vendor:

i. “Cultural.”

ii. “Delicious.”

iii. “Laughter.”

iv. “Warm fuzzies.”

h. Specialty Vendor (#4):

i. “Sparkly.”

ii. “Good people.”


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iii. “Opportunity.”

2. “What is your mission as a vendor?”

a. Dairy Vendor (#1):

“Cheese comes from all over. I think it is important to educate people,

encourage them to try new foods when someone comes to the stand. Tasting,

trying, sampling. More connections are created when you learn as you go. I’m

like a cheerleader for my customers. I shoot for an interactive experience with

my customers.”

b. Dairy Vendor (#2):

“To serve the best quality food for families.”

c. Specialty Vendor (#1):

“To provide excellent customer service. We hope to get customers to come

back. We’ve been here for 15 years.”

d. Specialty Vendor (#2):

“To grow and have more customers. To greet familiar faces or have repeat

customers. To eventually grow outside of the West Side Market. I could not

find classic…taste. Overall, all of this is in honor of my mother who passed

away... I had her move up here awhile back, but she was hesitant to move

from her roots... She was situated with family there.”

e. Produce Vendor:

“To take care of customers.”


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f. Specialty Vendor (#3):

“I am not a vendor, but I care about what people like, what they get,

maintaining stand cleanliness, and a safe and pleasant experience.”

g. Meat Vendor:

“To make people happy and make money.”

h. Specialty Vendor (#4):

“I don’t own the stand, but as a worker my mission is to make customers

happy.”

3. “How did you become a vendor at the West Side Market, and when?”

a. Dairy Vendor (#1):

“I was or still am a chef. Back then I shopped down here regularly, and still

do, but along the way I built networks. I’ve been here for 10 ½ years. At first

we started off with 75 cheeses and now have over 200.”

b. Dairy Vendor (#2):

“My mom had the stand and did bookwork so I worked my way into the role.

We’ve been here for 11 years.”

c. Specialty Vendor (#2):

“I sent an email to a manager. It started with an advertisement that said small

food stand from Euclid [Avenue]. I thought it was an opportunity to grow with

small steps.”

d. Produce Vendor:

“I have been here for 49 years. There was opportunity to have my own stand.”
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e. Meat Vendor:

“I moved into Ohio City not too long ago and got this job through a friend.

I’ve been working here for six months.” [*Sean (Co-worker): “I worked

outside for two years and now I’ve been working inside for one year. It takes a

long time to move in. There’s more of a “slower pace” inside than outside.”]

[Both clarified positions as employees after statement.]

4. “How would you describe your role at the market? Please specify your role and why.”

a. Dairy Vendor (#1):

“Depends on the day. I’m ordering products for the stand usually. I’d say a

mix between an expediter, educator, seller, chef, and local citizen. I help

people find what they are looking for. Along with the taste tests, I let

customers know about other local restaurants that buy from us.”

b. Dairy Vendor (#2):

“We are ambassadors to Cleveland as we entertain people and tell them about

our items. We are also chefs so we need to exceed our customer’s

expectations.”

c. Specialty Vendor (#3):

“As a seller, I operate as a tour guide. People usually ask: “What do you

recommend?” “Where can I find this item?” “Where are the restrooms?”

“What else do I need to see in Cleveland?” etc.”


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d. Meat Vendor:

“My role is bilateral. Some days I’m up front working with customers and

some days not too much. It all depends. [*Frank (Co-worker): “With this

pretty face who would not want him up here!”] [Laughs]

5. “How do you think you are impacting consumer behaviors?”

a. Dairy Vendor (#1):

“We are 100% transparent with our customers—country of origin, tasting

profile, how it is made, all of the ins and outs.”

b. Dairy Vendor (#2):

“We are supporting the community with quality products and consistent

service. Specifically, if a customer wants something, they’ll get it.”

c. Specialty Vendor (#3):

“We offer a variety of cooking for different customers—different options that

are unique and defining. We need it. People rarely find [our] cuisine around

here, but more often on the other side of town.”

d. Produce Vendor:

“We help people save money and provide personal attention.”

e. Meat Vendor:

“Well, we follow protocol so I would say our safety standards, quality meats,

and customer expectations have them coming back.”


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6. “What is significant about public markets in metropolitan areas like Cleveland?”

a. Dairy Vendor (#1):

“Family-owned places. That meat stand [points] has been there for over 100

years. A few stands down, the daughter now owns her mother’s stand. There’s

a picture of her [the daughter] sleeping underneath the counter while her mom

worked. There are many families here who have owned their stands from past

generations.”

b. Meat Vendor:

“Family. People come into this culture where business is team and family

oriented, meaning we also take care of our customers like family. On the other

hand, the Market is always busy on Friday and Saturday mornings. It was

busy a long time ago too. This year there are two vendors retiring who worked

here for 60 years. There will be a big party for them.”

c. Specialty Vendor (#4):

“People from all over come and move product interactions, meanwhile, it’s a

big family here with long-lasting friendships.”

7. “How do you engage in conversation with a customer?”

a. Produce Vendor:

“Simply talk.”

b. Meat Vendor:

“We like to show our customers that it’s all about having fun at the West Side.

We are a friendly bunch, approachable, and open to any

questions/conversation/all of it.”
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c. Specialty Vendor (#4):

“Similar to how we are talking right now. Sometimes people will just bring up

casual conversation or have a question about the market while I make their

order.”

8. “In what way do social networks affect the service you provide?”

a. Dairy Vendor (#1):

“There was a couple who recently moved to New York. They are aspiring

actors, but they would come every week with five dollars and went through

half of the cheeses. I have chefs who come to the stand when changing their

menus. I’ll create a cheese sampling for them, and it emphasizes my love to

see people’s expressions when trying something new, especially with kids. [In

the distance she sees a family at a neighboring meat stand] You should see

their expression when they see a cow’s tongue and foot. [Smiles] They might

think it’s scary or weird, but learning where and what foods they eat come

from, versus a hamburger from McDonald’s that comes in a box, is

important.”

b. Specialty Vendor (#2):

“I’m not ready yet with social media. I had an interview with the West Side

Market through WKYC.”

9. “Where do you source your food and/or ingredients from and how do you look for

suppliers?”

a. Produce Vendor:

“I buy from 40th terminal in Cleveland.”


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b. Meat Vendor:

“A majority of meat vendors get products from Olesky Wholesale Meats in

Cleveland, over near East 40th.”

10. “What are your thoughts on food tourism?”

a. Dairy Vendor (#1):

“Our old tag-line was “Try something new!” Instead, “An educated consumer

is your best customer.” It’s important to look at things sideways. I’d describe

it as an authentic gathering. We see a difference here when parking becomes a

problem.” [Laughs]

b. Specialty Vendor (#4):

“Well when people are at the market, it is as if people are travelling the world.

In an open and friendly place like the West Side Market, we get a lot of

people who taste food from various ethnic backgrounds. Customers get the

chance to taste and talk with people [vendors] who create an experience from

their own personal history more often than not and that includes their stories,

heritage, and overall passion for food.”

11. “What does the food you sell mean to you? What do you think it means to your

customers?”

a. Specialty Vendor (#1):

“The food we sell is a “family-feeling.” It means to our customers that our

service is friendly and outgoing. It’s as if the stand and its essentials speak for

itself.”
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b. Specialty Vendor (#2):

“The food I sell is comforting. I was brought up on [classic] flavor. It is a style

of home cooking I want to share in Cleveland…. In my family, I have 15

siblings where home cooking always involved family. It’s a coming home

feeling for the customers.”

12. “On average, how many customers do you have during the day?”

a. Specialty Vendor (#2):

“Depends on the day. It’s been slow on Mondays, but I’m still new to the area

so it’s early to tell.”

b. Meat Vendor:

“That’s a good question. Now that you ask….” [Looks to his co-worker who

then looked to another co-worker] [*Elizabeth (Co-worker): “At least 100 per

worker/per day during regular business days, but on the weekend it can reach

to 300 customers each.”]

13. “What do you notice about customer purchasing behavior?”

a. Dairy Vendor (#1):

“Satisfaction. Many customers ask any and all questions. Regarding myself,

well I more or less try to read people because looking beyond the picture of

who’s in front of me leads to more content. I can narrow 200 cheeses down to

12 cheeses based on the texture, taste, and pairing of food. In those moments

too, customers might say “I don’t know,” but every cheese in this case has

some sort of pairing; then, I am able to recommend customers to other booths


90
around here for that other item. I am excited when people get those “aha

moments.””

14. “How, if at all, has your perception of the service you are providing changed since

you first started at the West Side Market?”

a. Produce Vendor:

“The “outside” stands did not have windows when I first started. Each stand

had heat generators during the winter, sitting next to us. It was more open.”

15. “Do you recognize a change in presence or visibility at the market when people

explore the food scene? How so?”

a. Dairy Vendor (#1):

“There was an electrical fire here four years ago so many of us were not able

to open our stands. It was difficult to not serve our customers and at the same

time income was lost. Luckily no one got hurt during that time. However, big

events happening in the area, like downtown or Ohio City, can make it

difficult for customers. We were on “lockdown” during the Cav’s win, RNC,

and other events. Parking became even more of an issue.”

16. “How do you think people perceive food when shopping at a grocery store?”

a. Specialty Vendor (#3):

“People usually go to the grocery store for a product found almost anywhere,

but the market is more homemade and more selective. I feel that people pay a

premium for items in-store.”


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17. “In what way might a customer feel encourage to purchase a food product from you?”

a. Meat Vendor:

“The product sells itself. A good source of protein too.”

18. “In what ways can consumers buy all or a majority of his or her groceries at a public

market versus a grocery store or general convenient store? Please explain how it

might be possible or difficult to do so.”

a. Dairy Vendor (#1):

“People are able to buy all of their groceries from the market, but buy what

you need. You don’t need a big wad of cash. Vendors will help guide you

with what you need, what you want to do with the foods, make suggestions

and again suggest pairings with other foods. As vendors we support one

another and there is zero to no competition. There are other stores, like Aldi,

which is affordable.”

19. “What misconceptions do you think people have on purchasing foods from a grocery

store versus a market setting? (e.g. farmers market, public market, etc.)”

a. Specialty Vendor (#3):

“Probably that grocery stores carry “everyday items” and that markets are

produce-oriented. There are other specialty products that can be bought at the

West Side Market too.”

20. “What concerns do you have when it comes to the food industry, including

agriculture practices, production, manufacturing, processing, advertisement,

consumption, etc.?

a. Specialty Vendor (#1):


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“Safety in general is always a concern, however, food safety and health issues

are a major priority. Food safety, especially in the summer, can become a

problem fast because warmer temperatures can easily effect food quality, in

terms of it being safe to cook and eat with; this includes issues with bacteria

and food temperatures. It is a concern for meat and seafood stands.”

21. “Do you affiliate with a labor union?”

a. Meat Vendor: “No.”


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Appendix G: Transcript of Semi-Structured Informal Interviews with Consumer

Goal: To understand consumer experience when acquiring food and level of engagement

with place, space, and people

Special Note: Asterisks indicate fictitious name(s).

1. Question: Are you from the Cleveland area? In/Out of state?

Answer: “I am from out of the country. Puerto Rico. I am actually here [in Ohio] to

visit family for two months. The recent storm caused a lot of damage.”

2. Question: Where do you prefer to purchase groceries? Why?

Answer: “I prefer to go to the supermarket or a fresh mart with organic food.”

3. Question: Do you shop for groceries or purchase specialty food?

Answer: “I look for gluten-free, organic, and keep process food to a minimum, but it

is difficult.”

4. Question: Who, if anyone, accompanies you to [the market]?

Answer: “I usually go shopping for food by myself. I live alone so I can go whenever

or when I can.”

5. Question: Please describe your impressions when you first came to the market?

Answer: “It [the market] is big and varies in food type and quality. I feel there is

double the food here.”

6. Question: Specifically, what do you like about the market? Dislike?

Answer: “I like the selection of food and the variety. It is a place where I can buy

groceries and buy something to eat at the same time.”


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Appendix H: Transcript of Semi-Structured Informal Interviews with Consumer

Goal: To understand consumer experience when acquiring food and level of engagement

with place, space, and people

Special Note: Asterisks indicate fictitious name(s).

1. Question: Are you from the Cleveland area? In/Out of state?

Answer: “Milwaukee.”

2. Question: What form of transportation did you use to get to the market?

Answer: “Car.”

3. Question: Where do you prefer to purchase groceries? Why?

Answer: “I shop at markets because I look for variety and quality. I am able to get the

staples I need. Let me emphasize quality and freshness by mentioning it again.

[Laughs]”

4. Question: How often do you come to the market? Why?

Answer: “I don’t come to [this] market often because it is my first time here. I heard

great experiences about the West Side Market so I decided to come here during

holiday travel. We have a similar market though, Milwaukee Public Market, and I go

there more often because it is available for me to go there.”

5. Question: Please describe your impressions when you first came to the market?

Answer: “One world. INCREDIBLE. [Looks out to the view]”

6. Question: Specifically, what do you like about the market? Dislike?

Answer: “There’s not much to dislike. I love the variety and credit the cultural

diversity.”
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7. Question: As part of a larger food system, explain how you (the consumer) influence

food service establishments versus the food distribution system that is controlled by

farmers and food companies?

Answer: “As a customer we are asking for and buying local. Accessibility can be

difficult. I love the concept of how we can get food in various ways but it is

multifaceted and delicate, especially when it comes time to take food home [from a

market] because it is fresh.”


96
Appendix I: Transcript of Semi-Structured Informal Interviews with Consumer

Goal: To understand consumer experience when acquiring food and level of engagement

with place, space, and people

Special Note: Asterisks indicate fictitious name(s).

1. Question: Are you from the Cleveland area? In/Out of state?

Answer: “Yes, my family and I are from Cleveland and still reside in the area.”

2. Question: What form of transportation did you use to get to the market?

Answer: “Drive.”

3. Question: Where do you prefer to purchase groceries? Why?

Answer: “I live near Marcs, Aldi, and Acme Farm Market so I go there. I look for

specials, like deals, and the freshest meats and fruits and vegetables at time. I usually

explore food options and often depends on what is needed.”

4. Question: How often do you come to the West Side Market? Why?

Answer: “I come here once a month as a special treat. It reminds me of the few years

I spent in Italy during my seminary years of study. I studied in Rome and have been a

pastor since then. Breakfast in Italy was not the same in the U.S. I would have never

thought to eat Nutella in the morning, but the experience influenced what I would eat

anywhere because of the additives in packaged food. My niece says she would love to

eat Nutella for breakfast. [Laughs and stares at his niece and nephew] The world

today is not what it used to be.”

5. Question: Are you a regular customer? If so, do you shop for groceries or purchase

specialty food?

Answer: “I am not a regular customer.”


97
6. Question: Who, if anyone, accompanies you to the market?

Answer: “By myself.”

7. Question: Please describe your impressions when you first came to the market?

Answer: “I grew up in Cleveland near the East Side Market. Although it was not as

big as the West Side Market, I could walk through when it was convenient. There was

also a green grocer next door, which was seasonal, but made grocery shopping even

more convenient.”

8. Question: Specifically, what do you like about the market? Dislike?

Answer: “I like the variety and the original people who started here. There are many

vendors retiring. The new shops are okay. However, the place is genuine. I am here

buying Christmas gifts today. In general, it is a good place to spend money. I really

like the Smokehouse. Also, I like the fish and vegetables. I am generally influenced

by looking for specific items whenever I am here. I dislike the parking because it all

depends on chance. Pretty soon [they] the Market will redo the parking lot.”

9. Question: As part of a larger food system, explain how you (the consumer) influence

food service establishments versus the food distribution system controlled by farmers

and food companies?

Answer: “Customers simply encourage what is sold. For instance, I like to buy for my

niece and nephew. I don’t need a lot. I have had good and bad experiences with fresh

ingredients like spices, fruits, and vegetables but knowing what you’re getting makes

a big difference. When I bring the kids here they get to see fresh cuts of a pig that

they would never see and recognize at a fast food restaurant. The look in their eyes is

priceless because it registers in their mind. The understanding I do have on food


98
distribution comes from my friend who distributes to all stores in Northeast Ohio.

*Samuel is constantly distributing fruits and vegetables from Erie to Toledo by train

and truck to and from his store. The produce mainly come from Mexico and other

areas in South America. It’s average food when compared to some of the specialties

here at the Market, but you get a taste of both worlds.”


99
Appendix J: Photovoice Response Images

Appendix J, Figure 1: Photovoice Image Response #11 not included. Photovoice Participant
wrote: “Close up picture of many veggies…of FRESH PRETTY VEGGIES”
Appendix J, Figure 2: Photovoice Image Response #9 not included. Photovoice Participant
wrote: “Picture saying, ‘ORGANIC’”
Appendix J, Figure 3: Photovoice Image Response #10 not included. Photovoice Participant
wrote: “Picture of TRUCK”

Appendix J, Figure 4: Photovoice Image Response #13 not included. Photovoice Participant
wrote: “Picture of SIGN SAYING ‘LOCAL’”

Appendix J, Figure 5 (Below): Photo Credit: Photovoice Participant, Lynn; Photovoice


Image Response #14 at the West Side Market in 2017
100
Appendix J, Figure 6 (Below): Photo Credit: Photovoice Participant, Lynn; Photovoice
Image Response #1 at the West Side Market in 2017

Appendix J, Figure 7: Photovoice Image Response #3 not included. Photovoice Participant


wrote: “Picture looking down row of fruits and vegetables”
101
Appendix J, Figure 8 (Below): Photo Credit: Photovoice Participant, Lynn; Photovoice
Image Response #2 at the West Side Market in 2017
102
Appendix J, Figure 9 (Below): Photo Credit: Photovoice Participant, Lynn; Photovoice
Image Response #7 at the West Side Market in 2017

Appendix J, Figure 10: Photovoice Image Response #5 not included. Photovoice Participant
wrote: “Need picture with more variety of FRESH vegetables”

Appendix J, Figure 11: Photovoice Image Response #6 not included. Photovoice Participant
wrote: “Close up picture of carrots and potatoes…”
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Appendix K: Engaging the Senses

Appendix K, Figure 1 (Below): Personal Photo via Researcher; Consumers examined the
stand at the West Side Market in 2017
104
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