“Cutting the ‘food desert’ myth down to size”

by Walter Olson on August 21, 2011

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a food desert as a low-income census tract where a large number of residents are more than a mile from a grocery store…. [L]ess than 4.5 percent of the U.S. population [falls into that category], yet roughly two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese.” And that’s just the start of the difficulties with the food-desert theory [David Gratzer, Washington Examiner]

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PointOfLaw Forum: Around the web, August 22
08.23.11 at 8:51 am

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1 Smart Dude 08.21.11 at 11:08 am

If only 4.5 percent of the U.S. population live in a “food desert” more than one mile from a grocery store, and two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, then logic strongly argues that easy proximity to food access escalates obesity.

This is precisely the opposite of the usual faked junk science peddled by the Obama Regime.

2 John David Galt 08.21.11 at 11:11 am

I wondered where that awful nanny-term came from. My county defines it a little differently: you’re in a “food desert” if the nearest fast food place is closer than the nearest supermarket (and therefore they are mostly not allowing new fast food restaurants to be built, since it would create more “food deserts”).

It would be nice if I could sue these bogus protectors to go away.

3 Gale 08.21.11 at 1:34 pm

“The explanation: She lives near a successful, family-run grocery. But the “USDA bureaucracy defines “access to fresh food” as access to a large supermarket with more than $2 million in annual sales.

Neighborhood bodegas? Family grocers? Produce markets? None of them count, whether they stock fresh food or not.”

Really? Sheesh. So if you live right next to a farmers market you’re still in a food desert? Hardly!

And reading the last person’s comment…not sure where he’s from but THAT is a ridiculous definition if I ever heard one. Really, if I live next to a McDonalds I’m in a food desert even if there’s a grocery store in walking distance? Give me a LITTLE credit for self control. And I think people in other parts of the world living in places facing real droughts where they actually have to walk more than a mile to find any source of food might be just a tad astounded by either of our definitions of “food desert.”

4 Dr. Weevil 08.21.11 at 5:28 pm

Doesn’t a lot depend on the kind of food eaten? A lot of poor (and not-so-poor) people would be better off if they lived in a dessert desert.

5 Dave Eggers 08.21.11 at 6:22 pm

Food deserts are everywhere. They’re just in our head. The comfort of having a Whole-Foods market nearby doesn’t keep people from not eating a 1400 calorie dinner at KFC. Anyways, where has there ever been a time that rural areas had access to fresh produce year round from China and Nicaragua? If anything, their food access has improved over the years.

6 AMcA 08.22.11 at 2:48 pm

One mile from a suitable establishment is the definition? One mile? In the most mobile society on earth? In a country where there are 1.3 persons per registered automobile? Really?

Sounds like someone’s defining the question to ensure there’s a problem.

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