Yesterday, I saw a post on Grist.com about food deserts in rural areas. Welcome to the Food Deserts of Rural America. The post is from January 22, 2011, so it is a little dated, but it is a very relevant topic. A food desert is any area that has limited access to quality or a variety of food. Many people think of urban areas when it comes to food deserts, but a growing concern are the food deserts popping up in rural America.
A big problem in rural America is the migration out of these areas. As people leave, so do the customers for local businesses. But what I feel is the biggest problem is the lack of quality food sources coupled with an aging population in these areas. As the age of rural residents increases and their access to transportation decreases, their options become less and less. I do not consider myself living in a food desert, even though I need to travel 20 miles to get to a grocery store, but the only option in our town is a small gas station. If I was a resident without access to transportation, my food choices would be packaged, pop, some frozen pizza and french fries, a few dairy items and MAYBE apples.
Our town is currently building a senior living facility, but I wonder if it is smart. Should we be concentrating a senior population, who may or may not be able to drive, in an area without access to quality food? Will there be residual consequences (ie health, etc) because of this?
Despite this I had the idea of possibly using our abilities on our farm to bring quality food to the facility. I only thought of this today and haven’t even looked into it, but maybe it will be a possibility to bring food (like a farmers’ market) to them.
What are your thoughts on rural food deserts? Do you live in one? If you live in a rural area do you have access to quality and a variety of food? Let’s continue this conversation. I believe everyone deserves access to quality food.
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I think it’s true that people who are poor, old, or living rural have less access to fresh fruits and vegetables than those in thriving, wealthy suburbs or city downtowns. Many poor people “pick up” food for lunch at 7-11!!! Imagine the choices there. Eating out for a poor family might mean Taco Bell, KFC, or MacDonalds. I’ve heard people use the phrase, “I treated myself to MacDonalds.” I have family members who bring their Diet Coke with them when they visit my house because they can’t live through the weekend without it. Food choices can be limited by geography, and they can be limited by cultural background, too. Are the poor food choices in those areas because the people who live there won’t buy good food? Or do they not buy good food because the choices are not offered where they live?
I think you are asking the right questions! I think the answer is different for each person you talk to.
Oh SAD! Is it really that far for you?! I’m surprised that your town still doesn’t have a grocery store. I like to be optimistic about growth and new business development, I would like to think that a grocery store can’t be too far behind a senior center in your area!
We are about 10 miles in 2 directions away from a grocery store, so I can sort of relate. Though we have a constant supply of eggs and a gas station just a mile down the road for milk, we try not to make special trips for one or two ingredients. With gas so expensive, we try to grocery shop after work or combine with another necessary trip into town. There again though, we’re young and we have transportation.
I have one friend who, every time she comes over to my house, she calls before she hits the major town in between us and asks me if I need anything. That’s nice. I’m going to try and do that for my other friends who have distance in there. Good post Emily!