Slate’s Chris Wilson reports on a 2009 study by the Department of Agriculture found that “2.3 million households do not have access to a car and live more than a mile from a supermarket. Much of the public health debate over rising obesity rates has turned to these ‘food deserts,’ where convenience store fare is more accessible—and more expensive—than healthier options farther away.”
An interactive map of these food deserts can be found here.
I’m stunned by these findings.
And I’m ready to help.
As I’ve written about before, the area of Connecticut in which I live in inundated with grocery stores, and while their presence alone does not adversely impact me, their sheer number seems to compel consumers to frequent as many of them as possible in a given week, thus clogging my highways and surface streets with people who somehow manage to find the time to shop for meat at one store, fruits and vegetables at another, bulk items at a third, prepared foods at a fourth, and so on and so on.
I wish I had that kind of extra time on my hands.
The lack of efficiency in this model offends me on a personal level.
The amount of fuel being used to shuttle oneself around to these stores is destructive to the environment.
The presence of these multiple-grocery-store-maniacs on the roads slows me down.
Seemingly gone are the days when a family was able to do its food shopping for the week on a single day.
In the land of fast-paced, on-the-move, not-enough-hours-in-the-day lifestyles, the majority of people who I know somehow manage to carve out enough time to shop for food three or four days a week.
This makes absolutely no sense to me.
Using Google Maps I was able to determine that within a single mile of my home are a total of eight full-sized grocery stories, including two Stop & Shops and two Asian grocers. Had I stretched the range out to two miles, I would have more than doubled this total.
So what if we ship half of the grocery stores in my area of Connecticut to a place more needy? Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia, Georgia, Arkansas, and parts of Texas could all use one of the Stop & Shops within a mile of my home, or one of the two Asian markets or three Aldis or two Shaws within two miles of my home.
Lift these suckers up and send them someplace else. Reduce the congestion on my roads, replace the vast acreages of parking lots with trees and grass, decrease the amount of fossils fuels burned while driving to these stores, and perhaps encourage consumers to return to a time when families did the bulk of their shopping on a single day at a single store and transform the time spent turning our towns into giant farm stands into something more productive.
I’m drowning in food over here.