Listening First 'Veg on a Budget' Exploring how and why low income families in an area of multiple deprivation in the South East of England choose, cook, serve and eat vegetables and what might make it easier for them to eat more: An investigation to inform Lidl and the Local Council in implementing their Peas Please campaign pledges.

Carol Williams, Nigel Sherriff, Martina Gregori

Research output: Book/ReportProject report

Abstract

AIMS: The research set out to explore how and why families who shop on a budget in an area of multiple deprivation in the South East of England eat the vegetables (veg) they do, and what are the opportunities for change. It is intended to assist the local council and Lidl in implementing their pledges under the Peas Please initiative. ‘Peas Please’ is a national campaign which encourages producers, suppliers, retailers and other actors across the food supply chain to make it easier for everyone to eat more vegetables.
METHODS: Five focus groups and one individual interview were conducted with a total of 29 parents who ‘shop on a budget’ and had children under 18 years living with them, between April-June 2018. The discussions were recorded, transcribed, and analysed thematically.
MAIN FINDINGS: The parents in the study give their children veg and recognise veg as an important part of their children’s diet. The findings suggest that there is a common set of ‘core veg’ which parents routinely buy including: Carrots, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Peppers, Onion, Broccoli, and Tinned sweetcorn. Other veg were bought to go with particular planned meals (for example the Sunday Roast) and there was little evidence of buying non-core veg as a general supply. Parents in the study tend to shop for veg from habit and are not persuaded to buy veg ‘off list’ just because it is on special offer or cheaper.
Parents are gatekeepers of which veg are brought into the home and from which children begin to develop their norms around veg. The study found that the veg parents consider buying is conditioned by their preferences, norms about acceptable food combinations in meals, their skills and knowledge around veg (Veg literacy) and their willingness and capacity to invest in cooking veg and encouraging children to eat it (Veg interest and investment capacity (VIIC). For some parents, particularly younger parents, low veg literacy restricted the range of veg they considered buying.
For many of the parents, the range of veg they purchased was constrained by what their children would eat. Fussiness about veg was raised in every focus group. This was either seen as a ‘normal phase’ that children grew into and out of, or as contrariness and part of a wider power struggle around food. Parents with children who were fussy about veg expressed feelings of powerlessness and frustration. They valued the veg exposure that children got through school, and welcomed any intervention which could help break the narrowing range of veg their children would eat.
Overlaying all these considerations is parents' scope to buy extra veg and their response to price (Veg shop bandwidth). The data suggests that when money is tight, parents only buy the veg they know their children will eat. They cannot risk wasting money on food which is not eaten. Risk of veg waste is likely to be greater for those with limited veg literacy and/or capacity to invest time and effort (VIIC) in veg, and in smaller families with children who are picky about veg.
CONCLUSION: The study suggests that supply side and price interventions could increase the social gradient in veg consumption unless coupled with interventions which address the non-price related determinants of veg purchasing for parents on low incomes. A range of possible points for intervention are suggested in 5.1. Overall, there was little sense that participants felt that having an initiative such as Peas Please to help get people to eat more veg was over protective or interfering, rather they welcomed the idea that retailers and others wanted to support them in their intention and efforts to give their children veg.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages55
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018
EventVegetable Summit: Peas Please : The Food Foundation - City Hall, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Oct 20188 Oct 2018
https://foodfoundation.org.uk/event/the-vegetable-summit-2018/

Keywords

  • Vegetables
  • Low Income

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Listening First 'Veg on a Budget' Exploring how and why low income families in an area of multiple deprivation in the South East of England choose, cook, serve and eat vegetables and what might make it easier for them to eat more: An investigation to inform Lidl and the Local Council in implementing their Peas Please campaign pledges.'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this