Food Deserts

Coming soon to a neighborhood near you... it's community organizers advocating on behalf of people living in "food deserts." These are urban regions where the nearest grocery store is a mile or more away, or rural regions ten miles from a grocer.

The idea here is that obesity, which strangely correlates with lower income, is due to the lack of healthy food choices in certain neighborhoods. Advocates call for zoning laws that will keep out fast food restaurants from such places. It seems rather paternalistic to me. It's hard for me to believe that people eat at McDonalds because no Whole Foods is nearby.

The USDA has an interactive map showing "food deserts" across our nation. It's pretty interesting. Vast swaths of Nashville are included.

I was particularly struck though by one large neighborhood in Milwaukee. It's centered along Capitol Drive between the Milwaukee River and I-43. It runs south to Keefe and up to Hampton.

Ummm... ok. So I guess Piggly Wiggly and Aldi don't count as grocery stores? Not wholesome enough perhaps?

Ok, but what is the explanation that accounts for Outpost Natural Foods not counting? It's a giant natural food store smack dab in the middle of this "food desert." This doesn't inspire confidence in the USDA's assessment of the problem.