Ottawa’s Food Environment

November 11, 2022

Food is a basic necessity and access to good and healthy food is fundamental. In our modern, busy lives, eating healthily is not necessarily the priority. Other things get in the way: food prices, location of food sources, advertisements and marketing, the time and energy required for food preparation.

As part of an analysis of Ottawa’s food environment, ONS collected data from grocery stores in Ottawa last summer in order to assess the availability and affordability of healthy food in Ottawa grocery stores. (Interested in restaurants? Click here to discover our range of food environment measures.)

Funded by the Trillium grant through the Ottawa Food Bank, data collectors visited 83 ‘supermarkets’ (full-service grocery stores) collected on the availability, price and quality of select healthy vs unhealthy food items using an adapted version of the Nutritional Environment Measures Survey – Stores (NEMS-S) tool (originally developed at the University of Pennsylvania). We are currently working in consultation with our Food Environment Stakeholder Group (including representatives from the Ottawa Food Bank, University of Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health, Good Food Ottawa, Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre and more) to develop an affordability measure. The affordability measure will assess the affordability of food baskets following the Canadian National Food Guide across neighbourhoods in Ottawa.

ONS is also working to understand shoppers’ behaviours and the factors around food insecurity in order to produce the most relevant analyses. We are excited to continue developing our analyses of this data with our Food Environment Stakeholder Group.

Look for our upcoming data publication on the food environment in Ottawa!