By: Crystal Stonewall
A food desert is an area where affordable, healthy food is difficult to obtain, particularly for those without access to an automobile. The term “food desert” may be new to some, but this phenomenon is actually very common, especially right here in Chicago.
Englewood, a neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago, has gained much press recently for being a food desert. Despite Englewood being the home to a Food4Less grocery store, many of the residents are too poor to shop at the grocery store, and therefore rely on food ministries and food pantries for food access. Englewood’s median household income is $24,049 which is sufficiently low in comparison to Chicago’s average median household income of $43,628 (Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, City-Data). When asked about living in a food desert, one teen stated, “At this point, I am accustomed to living in a food desert. I have hope that one day this will change for my neighborhood. In fact, I have been listening to the news, and heard about the new Whole Foods opening in the near future.”
One reason Englewood has been gaining so much attention is because Whole Foods is opening in the neighborhood. Many feel Whole Foods is not an appropriate store for this neighborhood because the prices of the goods sold at Whole Foods are substantially higher than the average grocery store. According to a study done by The Bill Fold, Whole Foods grocery items cost, on average, $2 more than items sold in the average store.
|Whole Foods Organic||Safeway Regular Produce|
|Parsley: $1.29||Parsley: $0.99|
|Cilantro: $1.29||Cilantro: $0.99|
|Green Lettuce: $1.99||Green Lettuce: $1.99|
|Green Onion: $1.29||Green Onion: $0.99|
|Carrots: $0.99/lb.||Carrots: $0.99|
|Bananas: $0.99/lb.||Bananas: $0.79/lb.|
|Garlic:$0.72 each||Garlic:$0.50 each|
|Limes: $0.50 each||Limes: $0.33 each|
|Gala Apples: $2.49/lb.||Gala Apples: $1.99/lb.|
|Total: $11.55||Total: $9.56|
To help eliminate food deserts, we should (1) help those in our community understand the problems associated with food deserts, and (2) discuss different options to fix the problem, such as community gardens and working with local retailers. According to JaMonica Marion, an Agriculture teacher, “Educating consumers on healthy food choices, promoting local grocery stores to sell produce, and creating urban co-ops can help alleviate food deserts.” Ultimately, the best way to improve a food desert is having the willingness to make a change.
This blog post was written by Crystal Stonewall, a junior at Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences.