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Do You Live In A Food Desert?

Do You Live In A Food Desert?

People do strange things when they’re stranded in the desert.

They eat bugs. They drink out of puddles. If help doesn’t arrive quickly, they become malnourished and might even die.

You might be surprised to learn that millions of Americans live in just such a strange and threatening place: a food desert.

The USDA defines a food desert as “a low-income census tract where either a substantial number or share of residents has low access to a supermarket or large grocery store.”

Under these income and food access criteria, about 10 percent of the 65,000 census tracts in the United States meet the definition of a food desert. These food desert tracts contain 13.5 million people with low access to sources of healthful food. The majority of this populationó82 percentólive in urban areas.

Are you feeling faint? Fat? Malnourished? You could be lost in a food desert right now and not even realize it.

To help raise awareness about food deserts, the USDA recently introduced an Internet-based mapping tool that pinpoints the location of food deserts around the country and provides data on population characteristics of census tracts where residents have limited access to affordable and nutritious foods.

The Food Desert Locator is designed to assist efforts to expand the availability of nutritious food in low-income communities that lack ready access to healthy food. Figuring out how to keep people eating healthy will become even more challenging as the world population grows.

Care2′s Kristina Chew writes that according to a report released yesterday by Oxfam International, the price of staples such as corn (maize) will nearly double by the year 2030. By 2050, demand for food will grow by 70 to 90 percent but “climate change, ecological degradation, population growth, rising energy prices, rising demand for meat and dairy products and competition for land for biofuels, industry and urbanization” will lead to declining supplies.

While we now have the ability to feed all of humanity, says Oxfam, one in seven people goes hungry today and the world’s poorest people spend up to 80 percent of their income on food.

Also Check Out:
Food and Class
Find Local Food
4 Tips To Eat Organic On A Budget

Image Credit: Flickr – giofili

Read more: Conscious Consumer, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, Green, Health, News & Issues, Smart Shopping, , , , , ,

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Beth Buczynski

Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in or near three major U.S. mountain ranges, and is passionate about protecting the important ecosystems they represent. Follow Beth on Twitter as @ecosphericblog or check out her blog.

42 comments

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12:49PM PDT on Mar 21, 2013

Thanks for the article.

12:52PM PDT on Mar 14, 2012

I live in a desert but I have great Farmers' Markets and vegan restaurants, so I get by quite well.

11:02PM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

wow...didn't know this is happening in the U.S or "America"...I am from Romania but nothing like this happens here as I know of :D thank God for that then :P

11:32AM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

Merci **

11:50AM PDT on Jun 8, 2011

Thanks

2:39AM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

rather no

5:03PM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

Joyce, you can join the disabled in the unemployment line.

If I read a previous comment correctly, the implication was that pre-packaged and ready-made meals were too expensive. When I was on welfare, pre-packaged and ready-made meals were way cheaper than fresh fruit and veges. Not as nourishing or as filling, but cheaper. (Remember that food banks ask for "non-perishable" foods.)
The necessary time, energy and ability to grow gardens may not be available to everyone. For example, if it takes a person several hours to get up in the morning and get dressed, then they are not likely to have the energy nor the time to plant or tend a garden.
The "very basics of budgeting" are not possible when not enough money is provided to last for a whole month. (I am talking specifically about Canada, sorry to say.)

2:05AM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

Thanks for the article.

10:19AM PDT on Jun 3, 2011

Interesting article. Thanks for posting.

8:33AM PDT on Jun 3, 2011

it is only for US :( I'm from Europe, but thanks anyway!

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