Food Deserts

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Hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans live in what’s known as a food desert. A food desert is in an area of focus that is short on access to fresh meat and produce. These areas are usually over populated with packaged and processed foods, which are not always healthy. They also have a significant amount junk that you can easily find in convenience stores and fast food restaurants. What exactly qualifies a neighborhood to be part of a food desert? Food deserts usually have a bunch of blocks without a corner grocery store. In a more severe case an entire neighborhood, or a whole bunch of neighborhoods do not have a mainstream grocery store. A mainstream grocery stored would be a grocery store like a Jewel, a Whole Foods, or an Aldi, where they sell fresh produce and meat, along with various other items. Day to day, residents must leave their neighborhoods for basics such as raw meat and fresh vegetables. Edith Howard, whose daughter drives her to the store, is better off than many. An estimated 64,000 households in food deserts don’t have cars, so a weekly shopping trip can require taking public transportation for a long distance. According to, 109,000 food desert residents are single mothers. Because of this many simply are not able to make their purchases, turning to a fast-food outlet or a convenience store instead. In a convenience store, the inventory often consists of potato chips and liquor rather than broccoli and apples. If these items were to be available, they would cost almost three times as much as they would in a mainstream grocery store. ( Many factors contribute to a food desert, such as having physical access to shops can be difficult if the shops are far away. Consumers can become affected by these areas if the neighborhood has rough conditions to get around in, public transport is poor or only reaches so far, and I think in most cases a consumer has no car. When physical access is a problem and consumers can only shop near by, they are left with very little choices. For instance, a consumer may not have any transportation to a jewel by all means, and they have to shop at a small convenience store, this convenience store happens to be cramped and limited with space. If a consumer were to be disabled, they would have a lot of trouble getting around the store. Most mainstream stores are handicap accessible, where they have wheel chair ramps, flat platforms and doors that open upon feeling any kind of motion. If a consumer were to go to a neighborhood where platforms are raised with a step and it not handicap accessible, they would not be able to access the store at all. Money can also be a factor in a food deserts because if consumers do not have the money to shop in certain stores, it makes it difficult for them to accommodate to their needs. Jewel can be expensive at times, and let’s say someone who needs groceries only has a jewel near by will limit them to what they can and cannot buy. If people do not have money to spend, businesses go out of business and have no choice but to pack up and go elsewhere. If this were to happen, a family would be stuck with one less choice on where to shop. Also if money is a factor a family might be stuck buying cheap frozen processed food or ordering off the dollar menu at McDonalds rather than buying fresh vegetables, and meat. Money might affect the fact that a family cannot afford to have a car, and without a car they cannot travel far enough to reach something more affordable such as an Aldi’s. All these factors are a result from inequality and social class in different neighborhoods. Social class can highly affect many people. For instance, a wealthier neighborhood such a Streeterville, has various grocery stores near by, where they can get their fresh produce and meat. A few blocks away from each other there is a Dominick’s, Treasure Island, and Lake Shore Grocers. These are...
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