Ditch the 'food desert' label to make real change
November 6th, 2013
05:15 PM ET
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Editor's note: John Bare is vice president of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and executive-in-residence at Georgia Tech's Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship.

The movement to eradicate food deserts would benefit from, of all things, banishment of the term food desert.

In a job where I'm seeking innovations that allow more families to have better access to fresh fruits and vegetables, I'm struck that advocates seem mostly interested in mapping and remapping the same neighborhoods to establish conclusive proof that food deserts exist. By the USDA definition, that means documenting "a census tract with a substantial share of residents who live in low-income areas that have low levels of access to a grocery store or healthy, affordable food retail outlet."

The problem is that this approach focuses on diagnosis but not cure. It's as if doctors kept perfecting the test for polio without looking for a vaccine.
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Filed under: Food Deserts • Food Politics • Hunger


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