This paper draws on four bodies of literature to consider the determinants of healthy eating for low-income Canadians: a) the social determinants of health; b) socio-economic gradients in diet; c) food security; and d) the sociology of food. Though there is a paucity of data for Canada, it is very likely that, as in other industrialized countries, there are socio-economic gradients in diet such that those who are better off consume healthier diets than those less well-to-do. The available evidence suggests that income affects food intake both directly and indirectly through the dispositions associated with particular social class locations. Thus, there may be both economic and cultural thresholds for some food groups or particular foods in food groups. Understanding these thresholds is especially important in addressing the issues facing those who are the most vulnerable among Canadians with low incomes: the food insecure. The literature reviewed suggests that improved nutrition for low-income Canadians may be difficult to achieve a) in isolation from other changes to improve their lives; b) without improvement in the nutrition of the general population of Canadians; and c) without some combination of these two changes. Four major areas of research need were identified: a) national data on socio-economic gradients in diet; b) sociological research on the interaction of income and class with other factors affecting food practices; c) sociological research on Canadian food norms and cultures; and d) research on the costs of healthy eating.
How is the qualitative research analyst to understand apparently contradictory remarks made by a research participant? Although social scientists in the positivist tradition rely on methods such as triangulation to find "truth," interpretive social scientists listen beyond, between, and underneath participants' words to understand the social conditions that produce apparent contradictions in their accounts. In this article, the author presents a case study of making sense of a research participant's contradictory comments, using a theoretical framework to understand the participant's "logic of practice." Through interpretive listening and reflexivity during the data analysis, she came to understand the participant's contradictory remarks in a way that illuminated the contradictions, as well as a significant process in the participant's life at the time: the transformation from carefree daughter to responsible mother. Such an interpretive analysis does not produce "truth" as positivist social scientists require but offers instead the satisfaction of understanding.