Low-income families don’t limit shopping to ‘food deserts’

March 20, 2014, MinnPost

By Cynthia Boyd

Social-welfare experts have long assumed poor people, hampered by transportation difficulties, grocery-shop close to home at small corner groceries or convenience stores — “food deserts” that mostly offer high-sugar, highly processed, less-nutritious foods.

Inner city neighborhoods, particularly, have worried public-health officials who want to expand the availability of nutritious foods for low-income families.

But fresh research from the University of Minnesota, while far from suggesting that food deserts aren’t a problem, does indicate that lower-income Minnesotans who receive government aid to put food on the table go the distance for their food buys. Continue reading

Report: Ubiquity of healthy food directly tied to obesity rates

July 18, 2013, City Beat

By Hannah McCartney

A report conducted by researchers at East Carolina University in North Carolina, released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sheds some interesting light on patterns in the availability of healthy food in different geographic regions and concludes that amping up corner stores that traditionally peddle junk food could be key in improving public health and national obesity rates.

The study focused heavily on the availability of healthy foods such as fresh produce in corner stores across the state in urban, suburban, and rural areas. The findings suggest that there are higher rates of obesity in rural areas of the United States than in urban or suburban areas, speculating that because rural residents tend to live farther from supermarkets, they may rely more on junk food from corner stores (like gas stations) or fast food. Where rural areas did have healthy food available, it tended to be of lower quality than other more populated areas. Continue reading

Cheaper fruits and vegetables alone can’t save food deserts

Nov. 15, 2012, Minnesota Public Radio

By Eliza Barclay

Tens of millions of Americans can’t follow the government’s guidelines for healthful eating because they can’t afford or access enough fresh fruits and vegetables. Sometimes it’s because they live in what’s known as a “food desert,” places devoid of markets with a good variety of quality fresh foods.

Increasingly, researchers want to understand just how the “food environment” — where people buy food, what food is available, food prices, and how food is marketed to the consumer — has become the problem. And even as cities from Philadelphia to Chicago to Detroit mobilize to hydrate the food deserts, it’s becoming clear that even if you make fresh produce affordable, people may not buy it. Continue reading