I, myself, was not familiar with this term until I read an article a few years back. Very often eating healthfully is framed in a way that requires extreme discipline and self control, putting the onus on the individual. It is framed, simply, to just eat less to lower the amount of calories you are getting. However, there are structural and environmental obstacles to eating and choosing healthy, like access to healthy foods. Food deserts can be described as areas that don’t have enough easily accessible, healthy food options. To get a sense of how common this term is I polled 4 friends at dinner last night to see if they were familiar with this term. As I suspected, only one had heard of this term before. As I dug a little deeper I found some interesting stuff.
The USDA website has a resources that allows you to find food deserts. There is a map that allows you to enter geographical information to find areas classified as food deserts, based on low access to food and low income. As I entered a nearby NYC zipcode, I had no idea I would be so close to a zone as 125 and Broadway are extremely busy hubs of activity. There is was at 126 and Morningside, a food desert. Just to give some context, this is only a few blocks from Columbia. This goes to show something could be happening right next to you and you don’t even realize it.