The conventional definition of is one based on calories, on having access to the affordable and healthy food necessary to keep oneself alive. When people talk about the food challenges facing low-income urban communities, areas without supermarkets or neighborhood corner grocery stores, where nutritious food is scarce or nonexistent, they often use the term . It’s a colorful, descriptive term. It’s also inaccurate. Food deserts are just as likely to exist in rural areas as in cities; anyone driving cross-country knows that. Our centralized food system is partially responsible for these geographic gaps. Their omissions are less the result of careless oversight and more the outcome of judiciously considered design; either these areas aren’t profitable enough or they are too dangerous or inconsequential to worry about. Urban communities are now using a variety of tools to strengthen their local food systems, including growing food in urban gardens and putting a new twist on .
THIS WEEK’S TERMS
“Food access is determined by a variety of factors. The income of people experiencing hunger, the racial or cultural background of certain populations, and the distance between people and food markets. [To counter this], people have developed approaches to promote neighborhood-based food retail outlets or community gardens in disadvantaged communities, and public education campaigns to highlight such inequities as the prevalence of low-quality corner and convenience stores in underserved communities.”—Wayne Roberts, former director of Toronto’s Food Policy Council
An area where residents lack access to affordable fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat milk, legumes and other foods that constitute a healthy diet. Grocery stores are either inaccessible to these shoppers due to high prices or inadequate public transit or both.
A new twist on the corner store provides healthier and more economical food choices for consumers living in urban communities instead of only selling items like processed food, tobacco, and alcohol.