Energy Initiative Blogs

Food justice and food deserts

by Ruxandra Griza | Mar 29, 2017

Urban settings have historically housed disadvantaged, minority communities, where segregation, social injustice, lower access to quality services, and a clean and safe environment can be the norm. One symptom of these issues is the prevalence of food deserts in such urban neighborhoods. Chicago is home to several food deserts, which are highlighted in this interactive map from the Chi-Town Review. Not only are people in poorer neighborhoods  more constrained by lack of transportation options for education and employment; their access to food is also limited by the lack of access to grocery stores and options for healthy food choices (Sadler, Gilliland, Arku 2013). A positive correlation exists between proximity to grocery stores and consumption of fresh produce (Bedore 2010). Since these elements are key to healthy diets, people who do not have access to grocery stores tend to suffer disproportionately from health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (Sadler et al. 2013; Bedore, 2010). This trend is clearly visible in the maps below: areas with low access to grocery stores have higher instances of obesity.