Food Privilege

Simply put, “food privilege” is the ability to choose between a variety of food options, that people without privilege may not have. Food privilege can appear in different ways. Here are a few forms:

  • Ability to afford nutritious food
  • Ability to afford “organic” or “free range” produce
  • Ability to choose between different diets
  • Access to grocery stores
  • Access to cultural foods
  • Safe drinking water
  • Time to cook a variety of meals
  • Eating out at nice restaurants
  • Consulting nutritionists/dietitians without medical need
What Influences food privilege?
  • Income: Income determines your ability to afford food at all OR picking between Walmart or Whole Foods. People with a low income may choose the highest calorie for $ value foods to feed their families.
  • Free Time: Eating nutritious food often requires cooking, prepping and cleaning food yourself. Convenient healthy food is often expensive.
  • Race: Black children in America were more exposed to junk food advertisements, in relation to white children.
  • Geographic location: gaining access to grocery stores within a few miles/kilometers is a big determinant of food privilege. Keep reading to learn about food swamps and food deserts.

Food Insecurity: food insecurity is the inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints. It is a serious problem that negatively impacts physical, mental, and social health, and costs our healthcare system considerably. In Canada, 1 in 8 people or 4.4 million people (12.7%) are food insecure. This is approximately the population of Panama. In America, 1 in 9 people or 37 million people (11.11%) are food insecure. This is approximately the population of Canada.

Food Desert: An urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food. Food deserts are common in economically disadvantaged locations in America.

Food Swamps:

Geographical area with adequate access to healthy food retail, but that also features an overabundance of exposure to less healthy food and beverages.

Tarasuk V, Mitchell A. (2020) Household food insecurity in Canada, 2017-18. Toronto: Research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity (PROOF). Retrieved from

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