“Food deserts are areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet.”
Limited access to affordable, healthier foods is one factor that may make it harder for some Americans to eat a healthy diet and could negatively affect their health
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, there are “higher rates of obesity found in low-income and racial/ethnic minority groups in the U.S. Environmental barriers to healthy eating are often greater for people who have lower incomes, less education, and language barriers, and traditional healthy diet education campaigns often fail to reach them.”
Additionally, a lack of access to supermarkets combined with greater access to convenience stores increases this trend (Harvard).
On Civil Eats (“a daily news source for critical thought about the American food system”), writer Jodi Helmer brings up one potential solution: modern food courts. Trendy food courts are emerging in urban areas, with one example “serving a diverse mix of foods, including burgers, ramen noodles, Ethiopian cuisine, and Mexican ice cream, in a range of price points.” A potential problem with this solution is that it doesn’t clearly address how people suffering poverty will be helped. Clearly, food deserts are a problem that disproportionately affect poor communities, and trendy food courts might not be accessible. While it is still unclear if this is a viable solution, there are other options.
An initiative called the Urban Food Project “encourag[es] corner stores to buy, sell, and market fresh produce, [and] improves healthy food access and the local farmers who make weekly fresh produce deliveries gain new markets for their fruits and vegetables” (Helmer).
Food Swamps(the atlantic) new research suggests food deserts might not be the culprit—or at least not the only one—for the high prevalence of obesity in certain areas. Instead, food swamps might be to blame.
In addition to being low on grocery stores, food swamps are also crammed with unhealthy food options like corner stores and fast-food places.
Research shows food deserts more abundant in minority neighborhoods (John Hopkins magazine)
According to new research by Kelly Bower, an assistant professor at the School of Nursing, When comparing communities with similar poverty rates, she discovered that black and Hispanic neighborhoods have fewer large supermarkets and more small grocery stores than their white counterparts. Bursting with junk-food options, these smaller establishments rarely offer the healthy whole-grain foods, dairy products, or fresh fruits and veggies that a supermarket would provide. When it comes to having healthy food options, says Bower, “the poverty level of a neighborhood certainly matters, but even beyond poverty, the racial composition matters.”
Access or Gentrification-Can a Food Hall Transform a Food Desert? (2017, February 09). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://civileats.com/2016/12/09/access-or-gentrification-can-a-food-hall-transform-a-food-desert/
Toxic Food Environment. (2016, April 13). Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/food-environment-and-obesity/
Khazan, O. (2017, December 28). Food Swamps Are the New Food Deserts. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2017/12/food-swamps/549275/
Kelly Brooks / Published Spring 2014. (2014, March 10). Research shows food deserts more abundant in minority neighborhoods. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from https://hub.jhu.edu/magazine/2014/spring/racial-food-deserts/