Food deserts: If you build it, they may not come | Challenging assumptions at The Economist

Food deserts: If you build it, they may not come | The Economist

“A visit to Renton, a depressed suburb of Seattle, demonstrates the problem. The town sits smack in the middle of a USDA food desert stretching miles in every direction. Yet it is home to a roadside stand serving organic fruit and vegetables, a health-food shop packed with nutritious grains and a superstore that University of Washington researchers found attracts flocks of shoppers from well outside the desert.”

DC Pharmacy

The aisles in a food oasis, Dupont Circle, Washington, DC

The opposite also occurs. This photograph is one I took at the urging of @ChristineKraft, in a food oasis, just a few blocks from the Logan Circle Whole Foods Market. Note what’s on the left (artificial food) and on the right (intimacy supplies) of the pharmacy counter. Continuing on in the Economist article:

No surprise, then, that neither USDA nor the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has been able to establish a causal link between food deserts and dietary health. In fact, both agree that merely improving access to healthy food does not change consumer behaviour.”

A trip to the Economist article is worthwhile, as are a trip to the comments section, where readers hash out what should be done about obesity if characterizing and eliminating “food deserts” (as they are currently defined – I think this is the issue at hand) are not the answer. Note especially how, in the comments, this international audience sees America’s interests with regard to obesity prevention and treatment.

1 Comment

Ted Eytan, MD