What are food deserts, and how do they impact health?
“The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) define a food desert as an area that has either a poverty rate greater than or equal to 20% or a median family income not exceeding 80% of the median family income in urban areas, or 80% of the statewide median family income in nonurban areas.”
Karen Washington: It’s Not a Food Desert, It’s Food Apartheid
“Oftentimes, people use the words “food desert” to describe low-income communities who have limited access to food. In fact, we do have access to food—cheap, subsidized, processed food. The word “desert” also makes us think of an empty, absolutely desolate place. But there is so much life, vibrancy, and potential in these communities. I coined the term “food apartheid” to ask us to look at the root causes of inequity in our food system on the basis of race, class, and geography. Let’s face it: healthy, fresh food is accessible in wealthy neighborhoods while unhealthy food abounds in poor neighborhoods. “Food apartheid” underscores that this is the result of decades of discriminatory planning and policy decisions. It begs the question: What are the social inequities that you see, and what are you doing to address them?”
What is Food Sovereignty?
“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”
Food Desert Map & Locater
- Presents a spatial overview of food access indicators for low-income and other census tracts using different measures of supermarket accessibility
- Provides food access data for populations within census tracts; and
- Offers census-tract-level data on food access that can be downloaded for community planning or research purposes.