This paper studies the economic factors of food deserts in America. Determining aspects of food store locations, supply and demand, food pricing, income, and consumer preferences are discussed as some of the economic causes of food deserts. Ten articles are used to support this paper with unique standpoints on this topic. Subjects that these articles examine are consumer demand, healthful food pricing, business opportunity costs, effects of low income, heterogeneity and homogeneity of food choices, and the effects of low income. This paper should demonstrate that food deserts result from supply and demand, income, determinability of food market locations, and demand preferences.
Keywords: Economic theory, Demand, Supply, Consumer Preferences, Poverty and low income, heterogeneity and homogeneity food
The Economical Causations of Food Deserts
Currently in America, people are faced with the problem of food insecurity and inadequate food resources. This social issue has forced people to succumb to food standards of low grocery store access and income instability of purchasing nutritious food. Aside from low income being a factor to people living in food deserts, there are also several economic factors that influence where food deserts occur. In this paper, the causes of food deserts are examined through the economic scope of determinability of supermarkets locations, supply and demand, and consumer preferences.
Defining Food Deserts
The U.S Department of
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Food deserts are places where healthy foods are not produced nor sold. Unfortunately, Chicago is filled with food deserts. Approximately 600,000 people reside in areas that consist of food deserts (Gallagher, 2006). Nearly 200,000 of those people are children. These children do not have the opportunity for healthier options, which shows an increase in obesity rates (News One Staff, 2011). There are 77 Chicago communities and out of that 77, 23 are food deserts (Gallagher, 2006). Chicagoans-particularly the black communities- are forced to live off the accessible food that is near them. The food deserts are in Austin, North Lawndale, Armour Square, Near South Side, Fuller Park, Grand Boulevard, Washington Park, Woodlawn, West Lawn, Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Ashburn,
If there are any grocery stores are available in lower income areas, most of the people can’t afford the healthier, more expensive foods in the grocery store. They settle for cheaper, but filling, foods. Food deserts are also known for having more fast food restaurants available for the community. Fast food restaurants are built in bulk in lower income areas because more lower income families use them. “Low-income youth and adults are exposed to disproportionately more marketing and advertising for obesity-promoting products” (Food Research and Action Center). Since the fast food restaurant is quicker and easier to get to, and cheaper, it seems to be the better for many families.
In terms of governmental involvement in the management of food deserts, we argue that very little has been done legislatively by the Metro Nashville and Davidson county government. Despite the fact that several areas in the Davidson County have been identified as food deserts by the USDA, little to no legislation has been created to combat the problem and its effects on the health of its citizens. Edgehill has been put on the USDA map of food deserts, because it qualifies “as a “low-access community,” [where] at least 500 people and/or at least 33 percent of the census tract's population must reside more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store (for rural census tracts, the distance is more than 10 miles)” (USDA). However, the
Obesity rates in the US are rising due to food insecurity. One in six people in the U.S. are food insecure, while two-thirds of adults and one-third Americans are overweight or obese.14 Studies have found that wealthy districts have three times as many supermarkets compared to the poor.15 Kevin Conocannon of the USDA noted in an interview that people in poorer areas sometimes have narrower variety of food options.16 SNAP recipients face barriers to achieving nutritious diets due to lack of availability in their neighborhood. Healthy food often comes with higher costs, so most people with lower income result to eating foods with lower cost and higher calories. According to a 2009 report by the USDA, as many as 23.5 million Americans live more than one mile from a supermarket with limited access to a vehicle.17 Food Deserts are particularly prevalent in low-income communities.18
Diverse groups in American society are often the most marginalized and therefore the most vulnerable to issues that undermine the fair and uncomplicated pursuit of health and wellbeing. One of those issues is the lack of access to affordable healthy food and, in many cases, the inaccessibility to food in general. Areas where affordable and healthy foods are largely unavailable are called food deserts and the members of the diverse groups that live in such areas or that have access to very little food at all often develop a sense of food insecurity. One of the groups that is increasingly impacted by food deserts and food insecurity is the nation’s elderly population which is, by most standards, defined as those individuals aged 65 and older. The following paper investigates this phenomenon by addressing the elderly population of Ada County, Idaho as representative of this diverse and often disenfranchised population. The paper investigates the issue of food deserts and food insecurity that threaten the health and wellbeing of the elderly in the context of the various elements of social determinants of health that contribute to their development and persistence. The paper also includes proposals for individual and population-based strategies to improve access to healthy and affordable food by this population as well as improve the health and wellbeing of its members.
For centuries, the United States has been seen as a food and food-product paradise; with a constant bombardment of daily specials, “two-for-one” deals, and never ending combo options oozing from every corner of the food-scape. For many Americans, over indulgence is a frequent occurrence-studies show more than 50% of adults say they eat out at least once a week (“58% Eat at A Restaurant”, 2013). Even in this scene of gluttony, the poverty stricken and systematically oppressed find themselves in food deserts across The States; that’s more than 45 million Americans without access to healthy, reasonably priced foodstuffs. Of this group of 45 million, the African American community holds the seat for the highest poverty rate among various racial and ethnic groups at an astounding 26.2% in 2014 (DeNavas-Walt, 2015).
A food desert is an area with low income that is mostly filled with unhealthy foods that can be found in fast food restaurants and local convenience stores. Since the area is already penurious or poverty stricken it causes healthy foods with the nutrients that the human body needs to be unavailable. People tend buy the foods that they can afford, which is usually the lower priced unhealthy foods. The foods they eat can be the source of being overweight which can lead to obesity or other health related diseases. It is stated in “Food deserts, Hunger, and Obesity” by Asha Brundage--Moore that in low income states they are not much grocery stores. This is what causes more of a correlation between poverty and obesity, the location plays a major role in the two. Food deserts can associate obesity with poverty due to the location’s
A food desert is a location in which a wide variety of nutrition food is not generally available (Wrigley et al. 261). Food deserts exist in places such as inner cities and isolated rural areas (Morton and Blanchard 1). Food deserts do not exist because of unfairness against the poor, but because of constraints related to supply and demand. Even though based on the statement that food deserts contain a preponderance of unhealthy food; because such food is all people in food deserts have to choose from is an unsupported statement. The main implication of this conclusion is that the answer to the food deserts is not for the government to interfere with the economics of the food business, but, rather, for both public and private forces to facilitate the development of change in how the poor view and consume food.
Food deserts are one of the biggest problems in society, as the authors of Food Justice bring up (Gottlieb & Joshi, 2010). In fact, Indianapolis is ranked worst in the nation for food deserts. So what is a food desert? A food desert is when places are left with the lack of availability of nutritious foods and high rates of poverty. Often times, these are known as grocery gaps because grocery stores move out of the area, normally located in low-income communities. It makes sense that they would move to make more profit, but it leaves those in the community left with essentially nothing. Also, most people living in a low-income community do not have access to transportation, so they cannot get to grocery stores that are outside of walking distance. This is why Gleaners, a local food justice organization, steps in and fills in places where grocery stores have left. The program that works to fix this is Mobile Pantries. As I will explore later, Mobile Pantries allows people who cannot reach grocery stores the ability to get nutritious foods they need. Mobile Pantries give people a sense of going to the grocery store and picking out healthy foods. While consumer choice is limited, as Patel mentions, Mobile Pantries still gives people healthy options (Patel, 2014). Gleaners is a part of the Food Justice Movement because while they are not changing consumer choice, they are providing individuals with the option of healthy foods and working to end hunger and obesity
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
The concept of a Food Desert is not new, “British politicians introduced the idea of food deserts in the mid-1990s… suggested a link might exist between distance to a grocery store and the diets of poor people” (Gilligan, 2014). It took many years before the idea of a Food Desert was recognized in the United States of America but it is now estimated that, “About 23.5 million people live in food deserts” ("11 Facts About Food Deserts | DoSomething.org | Volunteer for Social Change," n.d.). The inability to obtain healthy food choices leads to, “people in low-income communities [suffering] more from diet-related diseases like obesity and diabetes” (Truehaft & Karpyn, 5, n.d.). The existence of these Food Deserts is a factor that works to keep those in poverty down and makes progress even harder for them to
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) atlas on food deserts shows that most food deserts in California are in highly rural (USDA, 2017). Northern California, the Mojave Desert, and the Imperial Valley all have a high prevalence of food deserts (USDA, 2017). A closer look at the map also shows a significant amount of food deserts in urban areas of highly populated cities. Large portions of neighborhoods in urban areas like Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento are food deserts (USDA, 2017). In this section, we will discuss the socio-economic characteristics of the people living in both types of food
Supply and demand are the rulers of price in the capitalist economy of the United States, and farm goods rely on these factors as much as any other commodity. The demand for food remains relatively stable although slightly increasing year to year, but the supply fluctuates greatly depending on
“Food Desert” refers to an area in a rural or even urban region with little or no access to big grocery stores that provides affordable and fresh food for people to have a healthy diet. These areas are mostly composed of low-income households who are often Hispanics and African-Americans (Ploeg and Breneman et al). They are often “trapped” in a geographical location where only small convenient stores, which do not have sufficient supply of all common, fresh and healthy food, are available. Currently, there are 13.6 Million Americans who have difficulties in accessing to super markets and large grocery stores. People living in such areas with limited access to grocery stores spend 19.5 minutes more to travel, comparing to the people living in non-food-desert areas (Ploeg and Breneman et al).
The low income areas earn enough to shop at the local areas. In neighborhoods that are very poor the stores and food suppliers are very poor. The healthier folks are not found in the poor neighborhoods with better quality of supply of foods in the area. Income plays a factor and varies what you have access to as a consumer. The nature of the food industry is to offer similar products from different companies. The characteristic of the food industry consists of similar companies with different size, concentration ratio, market conditions, and technology. All of these characteristics make up the companies conduct, performance, and structure. The food industry is driven from conduct, performance, and structure. The concept of a market structure is characteristics of a market that influence the behavior and results of the firms working in that market. The structure of food industry has many different markets from both sellers and buyers. The different food companies’ market structure allows the market to set prices. The different products entering and exiting from the market is controlled by the industry. The structure of the food industry will be decided through technology and the actual products. The structure is made of and depends on demand, supply, different products, and new products entering the market. The conduct aspect includes both buyers and sellers as well. The different food stores have their own strategies,