Over the past three decades, the volume of research on urban food retail environments has grown substantially, with researchers interested in how the spatial distribution of food outlets is linked to food purchasing behaviours, diet and nutrition, and general health outcomes. Much of this work has focused on the demand side of the equation, exploring how socio-economic status and other demographic characteristics are associated with varying levels of spatial access and different outcomes. However, the agency of food retailers - specifically their decisions to locate in specific geographies and to carry certain types of foods - is often overlooked. In this talk, I will discuss the evolution of food retail environment research, including a brief history of urban grocery store geography, an overview of past food environment research, and how a focus on supply chains and retailer decision making can move this body of work forward.
Michael J. Widener is a Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Transportation and Health at the University of Toronto - St. George. He is an Assistant Professor in Geography and Planning, with a cross-appointment in Epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. He was awarded the Emerging Scholar Award by the Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group of the Association of American Geographers in 2019, and an Early Researcher Award from Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation in 2018. In July 2021, Dr. Widener will become the Director of the Health Studies Program at University College.
Dr. Widener’s research focuses on how public health affects, and is affected by, transportation systems. His primary project at the moment is an exploration of how time pressure, transportation options, and divisions of household labour impact access to food and dietary behaviours. Additional studies are focused on the links between mobility, mental health, and isolation for older adult populations, and research on how advanced geospatial technologies (like GPS) can be used to provide useful insights for public health policy.
In the classroom, Dr. Widener teaches courses on geographic information science, web mapping, and spatial statistics at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Seminar Series: Building Resilience in Food and Health Supply Chain
This seminar series seeks to develop a multi-disciplinary understanding of resilient supply chains by examining two which are of critical importance to everyday life: food and health supply chains. The talks in this series look at these supply chains, both independently and together, through the inclusion of diverse speakers representing at least the following perspectives:
- Supply Chain Optimization
- Northern and Remote Food and Health Security
- Urban Food Systems
- Systems of Food Production
- Healthcare Systems
This is a School of Cities Seminar Series "Building Resilience in Food and Health Supply Chains"