Have you ever heard of such a term? I haven´t and it exists in every country. A Food Desert is defined as urban neighborhoods or rural municipalities with little or no access to groceries stores that sell affordable fresh food needed for a healthy died. Very often such areas have an offer of various fast food restaurants, convenience stores or gas station not offering vital fresh produce. It is a phenomenon that is one of the most important causes of the bad functioning food system.
According to the USDA´s Economic Research Service ¨23.5 million people live in food deserts and more than half of those people (13.5 million) are low-income. A one-mile marker may not be appropriate to use in rural areas where the population is more sparsely distributed and where vehicle ownership is high. To further refine the number of people who may be affected by food deserts, a 10-mile marker is used to consider food access in rural areas. 2.3 million people live in low-income rural areas that are more than 10 miles from a supermarket.¨ In order for an area to be qualified as a Food Desert the community has to have at least a 20% rate of poverty.
As I mentioned it in one of my previous posts, it is all related to the US Government’s agriculture and food policies. In the 50´ there were still many small local farmers that would not only be subsidized by the government to produce food on a national level, but farmers that would also provide fresh food to their local community. Unfortunately with time and the sky-rocketing market these small farmers have disappeared. Instead we have now huge corporation running enormous farms, for which sometimes one needs a plane to ´walk´ around. These businesses provide supply to big supermarket chains, which of course are too big to bother with some little towns in the middle of nowhere. You can take a look at such map of food deserts.
In Europe there are still some little towns in the middle of nowhere, where local farmers provide local markets with fresh produce, but they are also in danger of extinction. The EU Parliament too often favors big corporations when changing some policies. A lot of people say that today we are living in a world of choice, where one can buy whatever he or she wants. Because of the Agriculture and Food policies soon people living in food deserts will have only a couple of food producers to choose from: Coca-Cola, Nestle, Kraft and Kellogg’s.
In that moment it will be already too late or it will be really, really hard to change something in the food system and to restore the ¨healthy¨ life people were living. There is more and more studies that state that today’s generations may live shorter than their parents. In fact, the forecast for diabetes cases are extremely shocking. And the most catastrophic results of the American food system are obesity, diabetes and malnutrition. In a country with so much richness I find this issue a priority to solve!
posted by Piotr Wielezynski