When I wrote about my thoughts on Food Security yesterday, both Voie de Vie and AC mentioned they thought I would be talking about access to food, not safety of food. It's interesting how one word can mean different things.
In the US, we like to think we are a wealthy country and that everyone has access to what ever they want, as long as they work hard enough.
In some ways that's true and certainly we are a very wealthy country. But in no way are all of us wealthy and in no way do all of us have access to what we want or even need... no matter how hard we work.
We have large groups of poor people, of extremely poor people and of homeless people. Perhaps they aren't obviously sleeping on the streets or in slums as I saw when I visited India years ago. But that reality does exist in the US... check out Skid Row in Los Angeles next time you're there... or visit one of the pueblos in New Mexico... or just walk around the student ghetto near your favorite university. It's easy to see that poverty is a big problem in the US and with that, access to quality food.
As I see it, this food scarcity manifests in two ways... ability to pay for it and ability to find it. Often times it's a combination of both.
There are what has become known as food deserts here in the US... as in, the food is just not available, whether or not one has the ability to pay for it. I was under the impression that these were primarily in poor, urban areas. But this searchable map prepared by the USDA shows a very different story. The pink areas are considered Food Deserts.
|Food Desert Map source: ers.usda.gov|
I find the picture quite striking. That's a lot of pink. Which means there are huge areas of population that have no or limited access to quality food.
I don't know what the answer is, but I do think that quantifying the problem is a good first step.