Urban Fold

Are Large Discount Grocers the Answer to Food Deserts?

With suburban markets saturated, discount food chains are moving into urban food deserts. While this may be convenient for residents, some are concerned that such stores will do little for local economies.

For 15 years, Oakland's inner city has been a food desert, with residents needing to travel great distances for groceries. Now city council is amending its eminent domain laws to potentially force a landowner to sell to the Kroger corporation so that a Foods Co discount supermarket/gas station can be built. Eric Holt Giminez of the Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy is concerned that...

"[t]he corporate drive into the America's urban food deserts is reflective of the nation's food and financial crises. Large agrifoods corporations reaped windfall profits during the 2008 food crisis. Now these must be reinvested. Unfortunately, with the financial crisis, consumers are cutting back on purchases. Big retail must expand, but they have already saturated rural and suburban markets. The only place left is the urban market.

The problem of America's food deserts is complex and demands diversified, local solutions. The food system is better off with many stores--including large retailers--because they will help distribute risk, wealth and opportunities. This builds in economic resilience and food security."

Full Story: King of the Food Deserts

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