Specialty Food Magazine

JUL-AUG 2012

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/68592

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Page 103 of 207

NATURAL SELECTIONS Replenishing Our Food Deserts In the United States, 23.5 million people live in areas that lack access to fresh fruits, vegetables and other nutritious staples that others take for granted. Here are five ways grocers, community activists and others are bringing nourishment to those who need it. BY JULIE BESONEN F ood deserts have a complex meaning that the term belies. A city, neighborhood or region may have plenty of access to food but options generally limited to fast-food restaurants and convenience stores, barren of anything fresh, un-fried or unprocessed. The key facet of a food desert is a lack of access to a large grocery store or supermarket, to nutritionally diverse selection. These nutrition-starved pockets exist all over the country, in cities and small towns, and bear an alarming correlation to the nation's highest rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. In a 2009 report to Congress, the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that 23.5 million people, including 6.5 million children, live in low-income districts that are more than a mile from the nearest supermarket. Many in these communities don't have access to cars or public transportation to make the journey. Areas served exclusively by convenience stores, the study showed, have a 52 percent higher obesity rate than neighborhoods with supermarkets. Furthermore, supermarkets have been absent from some inner cities for decades, meaning an entire generation has missed out on the legacy of a home-cooked meal. A wellspring of innovative solutions, however, are coming to the rescue, some of which are proving to be solid business mod- els. The movement toward healthier, locally grown food has seeped into the American consciousness, spanning—and ultimately benefiting—all income levels. Here are five efforts making an impact. JULY/AUGUST 2012 81 PHOTO: COURTESY STOCKBOX GROCERS

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