A while back I had a GIS project surrounding food deserts in southeastern Michigan. Using locations of significantly sized grocery stores (had to be a chain, such as Meijer, Kroger, Aldi, Save-A-Lot, etc.), I created the above layout. Hopefully the layout does a good job at showing the locations of food deserts in the region, because I received an “A” for a grade.
There was a tweet this morning that set this blog post into motion: “A Michigan couple helps to fill #Detroit‘s fresh food void with their produce store. http://ow.ly/249Uw via @urbanbydesign.” Oddly enough, the store mentioned in this post does not get business nor demand that it could being in Detroit’s midtown neighborhood. Furthermore, it’s in a location of high density, traffic, and one of the city’s most significant food deserts.
Detroit, not only being one of the nation’s murder capitals, is also considered to be one of the heaviest cities in the nation, usually competing with St. Louis. Furthermore, the latest escapade of previous Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who was just indicted on 19 counts of federal fraud, alongside the challenges of Detroit Public Schools, might suggest that the problems of education are deeply rooted in a city and that healthy eating is not on the top of the list to fix.
Combined with the severe spatial disparity of metropolitan detroit, perhaps people’s idea of “eating local” is the McDonald’s down the block rather than bussing it to the grocery store. We know not everybody has the means to own a car, and crossing the city via bus can be a pain. Food deserts for those who own cars are not as an immediate threat than to those who don’t have the economic resources to drive daily. If it were me, I’d be more likely to feed my family off of what’s closer, even if it were a good amount of fast food. It’s fortunate to hear about the growing number of urban farms, resources for local food pantries, and gardens. However, the education doesn’t seem to have reached a tipping point yet to the larger community to solve the problems caused by a food desert.