Visualizing the Food Desert

It’s been a long time since I did anything related to cartography. I think the last project I did using GIS was back in 2008. It’s been too long and I need to find a way to become much more proficient at it. I’d like to someday develop the skills and knowledge that would make me a good map/GIS librarian – perhaps I could pursue a MURP or an MA in Geography…

In any case, I thought this might be an interesting project – visualizing Food Deserts. So for those unfamiliar with this concept, the USDA has kindly provided this definition:

The United States Department of Agriculture defines food deserts as places where at least a fifth of the population lives at or below the poverty line, and a third of the population lives more than a mile from a large grocery store.

I’d love to get some data from the Census bureau and create an interactive map that allows you to visualize food deserts in local areas, perhaps add an additional layer to it that shows the availability of fast food restaurants as a replacement for a grocery store.

Project aside, it seems odd that in this day and age there could be a food desert – I guess what makes me  question this is the fact that I’ve lived within a mile of a large grocery store pretty much my entire life. I can’t imagine that it’s like to not have access to one. Granted, that’s only half of the definition – to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t lived in an area where a fifth of the population lived below the poverty line. I guess I’m blessed in that I have never had to worry about where my next meal will come from. I wish there was a way for me to help the community better…

Source: Beyond the Food Desert Mirage – Food – GOOD.

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