Looking at America Through its Food

A new demographic tool from the USDA compiles data about food choices and characteristics, allowing the creation of detailed maps. <em>Edible Geography</em> wonders what using food as a metric will tell us about the U.S.
February 12, 2010, 8am PST | Nate Berg
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The Food Environment Atlas was jointly developed by the USDA, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Cancer Institute, the National Farm-to-School Network, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, and it compiles nearly 100 indicators.

"The Atlas currently maps ninety food environment indicators, divided into three broad categories. "Food Choices" includes both measurements of food access and consumption, from the number of supermarkets to per 1000 people to restaurant expenditures per capita. "Health and Well-Being" tracks dietary outcomes, such as hunger, diabetes, and obesity. And "Community Characteristics" adds an extra level of demographic data, including income levels and metro/non-metro status.

The idea, then, is that researchers, policy-makers, and individuals can compare counties across America, comparing and analysing the correlation between food choice, health outcomes, and population characteristics. So, what do you see when you look at America using food as the metric?"

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Published on Thursday, February 11, 2010 in Edible Geography
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