Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Food Science and Technology

Major Professor

Mary A. Bass

Committee Members

Marjorie P. Penfield, Helen M. Reed


The purpose of this study was to investigate selected environmental factors influencing food purchasers' use of the rural grocery store, the variety of food items available and the variety bought by the food shoppers. Forty-nine food purchasers were interviewed by the researcher. An interview schedule composed of questions concerning food shopping practices and a selected list of food items available in the largest Hancock County grocery store were used.

The rural grocery store in Hancock County serves many of the functions today that are reported in the literature for the early 19th century. Interviews with community leaders and examination of country store ledgers of Hancock County from the 1920's and the 1930's confirmed this.

Twelve of the 37 grocery stores within Hancock County, reported as the major suppliers of food for the interviewed families were investigated. The number of selected food items on the list available in each of the twelve stores ranged from 17 to 204 out of a possible 213. Canned pork and beans, granulated sugar, self-rising white cornmeal, self-rising white flour and unsweetened ready-to-eat cereals were the five food items sold at all the rural grocery stores investigated.

Food shopping practices of the family food purchasers were studied. The homemaker was the major food buyer in 28 families and the husband was the main shopper in eight families. The number of purchased selected items on the list for each food shopper ranged from 16 to 102 out of a possible 213 food products. Variety and prices were the main factors influencing the choice of a grocery store. The unavailability of fresh meats and produce at certain rural grocery stores were reasons given for shopping at more than one store.

Annual family income was significantly correlated (p < .01) with the variety of purchased selected food items. The family food purchaser's age and educational level, the number of family members in a household, the number of meals consumed by the family food purchaser yearly at home and the variety of selected food items available in the grocery store shopped were not significantly related.

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