Food Deserts in Rural Areas


Staff member
People who live in rural areas probably live in a food desert and do not even know it. What is a food desert? It is an area where fresh food is not easily / readily available. Most examples are from inner cities and urban areas. Some activist think a food desert is when people do not live within walking distance of a full fledged grocery store. What about people who live 15 - 20+ miles from the nearest town? Just walking to a grocery store, or walking anywhere is not an option.

What has happened over the past few years in rural American is stores like Dollar General has moved into communities. As a result locally owned grocery stores may be driven out of business. Consumers who look for the cheapest foods will typically flock to chain dollar stores to get the lowest prices available. As a result local family owned grocery stores that carry a variety of fresh meat, veggies and fruit are driven out of business. This leaves locals with chain stores that sell canned foods, but no fresh food.

Then there are the super walmart stores that are typically spaced every other town. This means people who live in rural areas have to drive to the next town, typically 15+ miles to get fresh food.

What is the solution?

One solution is for more people to grow their own food during the spring and summer. As it sits right now the vast majority of America is dependent upon chain grocery stores, and chain brand name dollar stores. However, not everyone is going to grow their own food. So the other option is to support locally owned grocery stores. Yes it means spending a few dollars more, but you ensure access to fresh food rather than living on canned foods.