Food Deserts Exaggerated

The "food deserts" problem is receiving heightened attention following the release of the USDA's locator map. But this analysis relies on the suspect premise that suburban supermarkets are superior to small, walkable urban foodsellers.
May 10, 2011, 2pm PDT | Tim Halbur
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Angie Schmitt at Streetsblog argues that all the hullabaloo over food deserts assumes that the cavernous suburban grocery store is the ultimate model of food distribution:

"While there is certainly a class of convenience store that lacks healthy food options, many analyses have completely ignored the presence of small, family-owned food markets and their important role in feeding urban populations."

Schmitt points to the USDA's own admission that their definition of what is a valid market is biased:

"Mary Reardon, a spokesperson for USDA said, "We define supermarkets and large grocery stores as food stores with at least $2 million in [annual] sales that contain all the major food departments found in a traditional supermarket."

"We do not address smaller outlets that have fresh food," she said."

Thanks to Angie Schmitt

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Published on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 in Streetsblog Capitol Hill
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