Koch and Contento: Questioning the Questions About Food Deserts
The research featured last week's New York Times' story “Studies Question the Pairing of Food Deserts and Obesity,” raises more questions than it answers. Beyond an absence of full-scale grocery stores, the term “food deserts” encompasses the over-abundance of fast food and convenience stores, which reinforces poor eating behaviors. Further, the research addresses neither the quality of grocery store food in low-income neighborhoods nor the pricing of healthy food within the stores. Finally, the researchers’ benchmark of a “couple of miles radius” to define proximity to a healthy food source does not address the hardships faced by families who lack access to convenient transportation.
The bottom line: Poor people have more health problems and eat less healthy food. To change that bottom line, locally sourced, affordable food should be readily available to all.
Pamela Koch, Executive Director, Center for Food & Environment
Isobel Contento, Mary Swartz Rose Professor of Nutrition and Education