Food Deserts and the Suburbanization of Shopping

What is a food desert, and what does it have to do with Wal-Mart?
July 7, 2004, 2pm PDT | Connie Chung
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"The food desert concept was coined more than a decade ago in Great Britain, where it was used to describe the phenomenon of supermarkets withdrawing from cities to build larger stores on the outskirts." For some in mostly rural areas, residents with cars (along with time and patience) must travel long distances for food. Poor and the elderly residents, however, could be living on expensive and "fatty fare" from convenience stores and gas stations.

According to one expert, "During the 1950s, more than half of all grocery stores were mom-and-pop operations. Today, just 17 percent are...." Another expert used Census data to chart supermarket access, and found that the worst was in the West, followed by the Midwest, the South and Northwest, respectively.

Who is to blame? One expert thinks the blame and the responsibility goes to state and local governments, who have not fully acknowledged food deserts as a major problem.

Thanks to Connie Chung

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Published on Monday, July 5, 2004 in MaineToday.com
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