Food Desert

A food desert is a geographic area where affordable and healthy food is difficult to obtain, particularly for those without access to an automobile.  Food deserts also exist in rural areas and low-income communities.  Food deserts are sometimes associated with supermarket shortages coupled with an overabundance of fast food chains.  

People often do not think about these areas in their own city unless of course they live in one.  Multnomah County has nine such areas according to a 2013 census; citing that 40% of people east of 82nd ave are children in food deserts.  People affected by this often do not have transportation of their own leading to lengthy bus rides to even get to a chain grocery store, let alone access to natural and locally grown food.   

People in these areas, especially children are adversely affected by not having healthy food options.  With their lengthy transit rides to get to a store, grocery shopping at Plaid Pantries has become the norm.  Cans of processed Spaghetti O’s is a cooked dinner.  Low-income households seem to be punished for being so.  Instead of local or chain grocery stores being available within reasonable distances we have families resorting to processed or fast food as sustenance.  With all of these factors working against them it is no surprise that the rate of obesity and diabetes is on the rise.  

Food needs to change in these areas.  Education and local options is paramount for these communities to turn around.  Why can’t there be local farmers markets, with healthy and affordable options?  Portland’s Farmers Markets, namely the one located in the park blocks on PSU campus accepts food stamps and has reasonable prices for eating healthy.  Having more local farmer’s markets would be significantly beneficial to these communities and the farmers that grow the food.  This seems like a win-win situation for everyone.

I found on the United States Department of Agriculture page an interactive map that shows an atlas of food access.