A locally owned grocery in Pleasantville, Iowa. Photo: Ashton B Crew, wikimedia commonsA few weeks ago, when the Obama administration released its Food Desert Locator, many of us realized that a once-good idea has spoiled like a bag of old bread. If you go online and find that your family lives in a food desert, don’t worry: You have plenty of company. One of every 10 census tracts in the lower 48 has been awarded that status.
Two years ago, when one of us (Gary) moved to the village of Patagonia, Ariz., he inadvertently chose to reside in what the USDA deems to be the edge of a food desert. Its maps show that Gary now lives more than 15 miles away from a full-service supermarket or chain grocery store that has 50 or more employees and grosses $2 million or more in food sales each year. Apparently, that’s bad. Gary and his low-income neighbors are now being told that if they were bright enough to reside within walking distance or five minutes driving distance of a Safeway, Alberston’s, Winn-Dixie, or Walmart, they would undoubtedly be more “food secure.”
Why? A USDA report [PDF] to Congress in 2009 suggested that the average food i... Read more