Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Grocery stores in poor areas (rural and urban)

I came across these two articles and I thought they complimented each other nicely.

The first discusses the difficulties that people in rural areas have accessing grocery stores. Because grocery stores are often long distances away, people shop at them only occasionally. Locals do much more shopping at convenience stores, which have more junk food, higher prices and less fruits and vegetables. This impacts finances and health. The image of Fannie Charles pushing her shopping cart six miles to the nearest grocery store about once a month seems much more like an urban image to me than a rural one. According to the study the article is based on, 75% of the stores that sell food in Orangeburg County, SC, are convenience stores. So much for the bucolic images of rural farmers living off the land.

At the same time, I found this article about how San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood is finally getting a full service grocery store after a ten year battle. The issues in Bayview are largely the same as above. Bayview has limited grocery stores and lots of fast food options. People need to travel to get to large grocery stores. Here, what is different, is that this is part of the city's plan to improve the neighborhood and neighborhood health. Still, despite city funding, the major chains all said no before this agreement with Tesco, a British chain expanding into the U.S.

Perhaps the issue isn't really rurality, but poverty. The advantage in the city is that there might be, at times, the political will to solve these kinds of problems. These problems may also be easier to solve without distance playing a part. Certainly, the neighbors in Bayview do not have to push their shopping carts six miles along unpaved paths to get to Safeway, but their healthy, economical choices are still limited. And despite the differences, I suspect the new Fresh & Easy store may find a few patrons pushing shopping carts home.

1 comment:

Leslie said...
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