FOOD DESERT: Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food.
Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options.
The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Source: US Department of Agriculture
Believe it or not, I’m frequently confronted by (white) vegans who are enraged that certain groups (low-income folks, rural residents, brown and black people) aren’t becoming vegan in droves. Their assumption is usually that these people just don’t care about animal rights, the environment or even their own health or when it comes down to it, those people are plain lazy.
“A can of beans only costs a few cents,” the refrain goes.
The awareness just isn’t there in many vegan circles and in the country at large that many Americans have little access to affordable, wholesome, plant-based foods. Cheetos, sugar cereals and ramen noodles – YES. Fresh produce or even an affordable can of the aforementioned beans – NO.
Often when I’m asked to speak, I realize that my mention of food deserts is my audience’s first encounter with the concept.
I hope this section of The Sistah Vegan Project will help illuminate what so many people are facing when it comes to making good food “choices.”
* This is an ongoing effort.
US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Environment Atlas
This infographic tool displays data about food deserts, as well as many other food factors such as food prices, food assistance levels, prevalence of fast food restaurants and farmers’ markets. You can zoom in on specific localities and cross-correlate information.
How to Find A Food Dessert Near You
About both of the USDA tools listed above.
ARTICLES AND REPORTS
The Grocery Gap: Who Has Access to Healthy Food and Why It Matters (The Food Trust)
The New Face of Hunger (National Geographic)
CITY BY CITY