Publication Date

5-2010

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Katie Algeo (Director), Dr. David Keeling, Dr. Stuart Foster, Dr. Margaret Gripshover

Degree Program

Department of Geography and Geology

Degree Type

Master of Geoscience

Abstract

The geography of food has been a popular subject for researchers and scholars who have explored the representative foods of a given region in reference to the area’s cultural identity. Food plays an important role in the development of individual cultures and civilization. Food consumption and dining habits usually reflect individuals’ location, cultural and individual identity, accessibility to food and heritage. United States is a country often called a “melting pot society.” Immigrants in the United States comprise over eight percent of the population, and various ethnic groups have reshaped American society with their unique cultures and foodways.

Driven in part by globalization, food has been commercialized in an effort to increase profit and broaden the diversity of foods available for consumption. By studying ethnic restaurants and the food they offer, one can gain a basic understanding of other information related to ethnic groups. The purpose of this study is to analyze changes in ethnic restaurant numbers, types, and locations from 1940 to 2005, as well as changing demographic patterns in Bowling Green, Kentucky. I hypothesize that a relationship exists between the numbers, locations and diversity of ethnic restaurants and ethnic populations in Bowling Green. Globalization and the influx of ethnic groups will reshape the diversity of ethnic cuisines between 1940 to 2005. In addition, changes in Bowling Green income, education level and ethnic structure are associated with increasing diversity of ethnic restaurants. Relationships between the locations of ethnic neighborhoods and ethnic restaurants are also examined.

The methods of investigation in this thesis include assembling a database of historic restaurant information and using GIS technology to map locations of ethnic restaurants and analyze spatial patterns and ethnic diversity of restaurant types. In order to investigate the association between ethnic structure, income and education level of Bowling Green’s population and the diversity of ethnic restaurant over time, data was collected from the decennial Census of Population and Housing. To research current consumer preferences, a survey was conducted to discover the most influential factors impacting residents’ choice of cuisines and the variation in restaurant preferences among age groups. Interviews with owners of ethnic restaurant shed light on locational choices.

Disciplines

Geographic Information Sciences | Human Geography