Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Livable Streets

Food Deserts: Another Way the Deck Is Stacked Against Car-Free Americans

12:59 PM EST on January 4, 2011

Slate has posted this map to illustrate the concentration of "food deserts," where large numbers of people don't have access to fresh food. The USDA considers households more than a mile from a supermarket and without access to a car to be in food deserts, often with only convenience-store junk food for nourishment. In 2009, the agency found 2.3 million of these households. Here, Slate shows the preponderance of those households in Appalachia and the Deep South, and on Indian reservations.

food deserts

Access to healthy food is just one reason to build walkable places with a mix of uses and diverse transportation options. The places on this map are where people have been stranded -- how walkable can your neighborhood be if you can't walk to buy fresh produce? Many of the people identified here are poor and can't afford cars. Some are elderly or disabled and can't drive.

The most vulnerable members of our communities are the ones most hurt by transportation policies that keep a singular focus on automobile transportation and ignore those who need other ways to get around. What Slate is calling a food desert, you could also call an unlivable neighborhood, where even residents' most basic needs -- like access to healthy food -- are denied.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Tuesday’s Headlines Look for a Home

The federal government could help families save money by providing more funding for housing near transit.

March 5, 2024

All The Ways That Car Domination Harms Our Communities (Well, Almost All…)

A new study seeks to quantify everything car culture costs us. Yet there are still more ways that auto-centrism hurts us all.

March 5, 2024

California Launches New Transportation Equity Tool

The Transportation Equity Index maps out crash rates and creates a new way to map out multimodal access.

March 4, 2024

Understanding Car Culture ‘Denialism’ Can Help Safety Advocates Respond

Opponents of change sow confusion with fake experts, logical fallacies, impossible expectations (moving goalposts), conspiracy theories, and selectivity (cherry picking). We can fight back.

March 4, 2024

PROWAG Can Make Cities More Accessible — So Here’s What You Need to Know

America has waited more than 12 years for the Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines to be implemented. Here's why they matter.

March 4, 2024
See all posts