Are Food Deserts a Social Construction After All?

Just saw this NYTimes article which claims that food deserts don’t exist.  Perhaps they are a social construction after all?

I have some issues with methodology used in the article.  It seems to me that produce per square mile isn’t important if someone doesn’t have a car to drive to the produce.  I think more emphasis should be placed on produce per capita, accessibility, quality and price.  Nevertheless, the article raises some interesting points.

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1 Comment

  1. kloknyc

     /  April 18, 2012

    There are definitely some issues left unaddressed in the methodology, including as you mentioned an adequate measure of transportation options/availability.

    Furthermore, I don’t think that evaluating teenage/ student food choices, regardless of proximity to both healthy and fast food options, is a sufficient means to determine whether or not availability determines individual food choice. It fails to acknowledge socioeconomic differences, specifically income, that directly effects food choices.

    As the author mentioned, the studies don’t seem to focus in low-income areas where ‘food deserts’ largely exist. Moreover, I have read studies conducted over the past 5 years in NYC that did find correlations between higher BMI in low-income neighborhoods with less grocery stores and more fast food outlets.

    I would think that focusing a study on specific low income populations that have been categorized as ‘food deserts’, including ethnographic fieldwork to determine the populations ‘sense of reality’ would be a good way to begin examining the issue.


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