Don't Blame Supermarkets for Food Deserts
Deena Shanker responds to recent analysis by the Associated Press about the tendency of major grocers to avoid opening up new stores in food deserts.
That "doesn’t speak well of the supermarket industry’s efforts to help convert the nation’s nutritional wastelands into bastions of healthier eating," writes Shanker, referring to a 2011 pledge by a group of major food retailers to open 1,500 new stores in neighborhoods with no supermarkets by 2016. The food retailers have fallen short of that pledge, made as part of First lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" healthy eating initiative,
"But putting the focus on retailers misses the bigger picture," according to Shanker: "Supermarket access is just one piece of why low-income Americans tend to eat less healthy diets than higher-income Americans."
To make that case, Shanker cites data from a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) [pdf] into the relationship between food access and food choices. The report found that low-income shoppers simply make different food choices—even when access to better foods is available—but that price has little with those choices. The article goes on to explain some of the multiple solutions that can help address the challenge of obesity and diet quality, as they actually exist.