Food Deserts in Chicago

An issue that has continued to impact the city of Chicago are food deserts. Food deserts are defined as communities that do not have easy access to supermarkets. Mayor Emmanuel tried to combat food deserts, however he continues to approve markets in areas that already have access to one, such as the Whole Foods in Englewood or the new Target set to be built on Sheridan on the North Side of the city. Food deserts are a major issue for public health because without an available supermarket, people have less of an incentive to promote healthy eating. Instead of having the luxury of being able to buy fresh produce at a supermarket nearby, often times people will be forced to order out, or travel long distances to a grocery store which can be expensive itself. Eating cheap food only contributes to the high obesity rates that the US suffers from. Obesity and diabetes rates are often higher in food deserts compared to areas that are not. Farmers markets have been created in order to address this issue, but often times food deserts occur in impoverished areas of the city. Farmers markets tend to have higher prices which eliminates them as a realistic option for people living in these areas.

The South and West sides of the city suffer the most from food deserts. These areas also tend to have their fair share of empty lots. A possible idea is the city giving some of these unused lots to the community for a community garden, giving people the option to grow their own produce and to come together as one to shed more light on the issue of food deserts. As more people come together, they can form a strong group in order to attempt to get the attention of the local government. These community gardens would be a great use of land. Many parks on the west and south side seem as though they are hidden with their communities so the gardens would also provide more green spaces for these areas. The local government defends their placement of grocery stores with “it creates jobs” but placing more of these stores within food deserts would alleviate the issue and could possibly stimulate economic growth within these impoverished areas. Therefore if the community gardens could garner attention and apply pressure to the city into doing more it would be a great success.
Sources:
https://www.agr.state.il.us/marketing/ILOFFTaskForce/ChicagoFoodDesertReportFull.pdf
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/the-socio-economic-significance-of-food-deserts/

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One thought on “Food Deserts in Chicago

  1. In your first paragraph you state the unavailable access to supermarkets in certain communities and how that affects the health of the locals. You stated that these supermarkets give people incentives to eat healthy, but from what I believe supermarkets do the opposite. They introduce processed foods that are not so healthy for people and even the “healthy” corners of the supermarket are modified in a certain way to allow for large quantities it to be produced and distributed. On the other hand, I agree with what you have said in the second paragraph. You expressed how locally grown fruits and vegetables can help provide healthier foods along with many other benefits.

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