Access to healthy food by all the members of society is one of the main conditions to reach sustainable development. However, in this regard, the current situation in the U.S. is far from ideal. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (2021), 53.6 million people (17.4 percent of the total population) live in food desert areas signifying the existence of substantial nutrition inequality in the country. Therefore, government officials and decision-makers should seek to develop methods to counter the aforementioned phenomenon. For that reason, it is necessary to discuss the reasons that give rise to food deserts, analyze the adverse effects that low-quality edible products have on people, and propose strategies to improve the situation.
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There are believed to be two factors that are directly associated with the appearance of food deserts, namely the profit-maximizing logic of capitalism and existing social inequality (Wright et al., 2016). On the one hand, supermarkets and full-service groceries prefer to open their businesses in the areas that would promise the greatest benefits and avoid locations that would lead to financial losses. On the other hand, people from poor neighborhoods usually cannot afford to buy fresh and healthy food products. Therefore, Wright et al. (2016) argue that even if people had available stores in close proximity, they simply would not be able to access the offered goods due to financial restrictions.
As a result, low-income people residing in food deserts suffer from nutrition insufficiency (Fitzpatrick et al., 2016). Although the direct connection between good quality food shortage and diseases is not firmly established, it can be argued that diet issues at least affect the everyday body energy levels (Kelli et al., 2017). In its turn, such a situation may further increase social inequality between the poor and rich. For that reason, it is suggested that decision-makers should address the problem as soon as possible. The solutions may include food education, the creation of food cooperatives in suffering neighborhoods that would satisfy local demand, and so on.
In summary, the current paper discussed the reasons behind the existence of food deserts and their impact on the local communities, and some improvements were proposed. It was argued that this phenomenon is explained by the collision of two factors – the profit-maximizing logic of capitalism and general social inequality. Although the consequences of food shortage may not be very grave, it leads to the disparity between poor and rich.
Fitzpatrick, K., Greenhalgh-Stanley, N., & Ver Ploeg, M. (2016). The impact of food deserts on food insufficiency and SNAP participation among the elderly. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 98(1), 19-40.
Kelli, H. M., Hammadah, M., Ahmed, H., Ko, Y. A., Topel, M., Samman-Tahhan, A., Awad, M., Patel, K., Mohammed, K., Sperling, L. S., Pemu, P., Vaccarino, V., Lewis, T., Taylor, H., Martin, G., Gibbson, G. H. & Quyyumi, A. A. (2017). Association between living in food deserts and cardiovascular risk. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 10(9), 1 – 27.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2021). Food access research atlas: Documentation.
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Wright, J. D., Donley, A. M., Gualtieri, M. C., & Strickhouser, S. M. (2016). Food deserts: what is the problem? What is the solution? Society, 53(2), 171-181.