"Public concerns about high food prices highlight how meeting basic human needs
can’t be taken for granted, even in a country like Australia.
Food prices are but one part of the equation that determines access to food –
and healthy eating more generally. Just as poverty for some can be hidden
within a relatively wealthy community, lack of access to fresh affordable foods
can be a problem even in our largest cities.
The term “food desert” describes this concern. It is believed to have been
first coined in the United Kingdom. It’s now widely used in the United States
and also in Australia.
People living in food deserts lack easy access to food shops. This is usually
due to combinations of:
* travel distances as a result of low-density suburban sprawl
* limited transport options
* zoning policies that prohibit the scattering of shops throughout residential
* retailers’ commercial decisions that the household finances of an area won’t
support a viable food outlet.
The term “healthy food desert” describes an area where food shops are
available, but only a limited number – or none at all – sell fresh and
Our recent research looks at whether food deserts might exist in a major local
government area in Western Sydney. We mapped locations of outlets providing
food – both healthy and unhealthy food – and of local levels of disadvantage
and health problems.
Our initial results are disturbing. We found nearly two-thirds of suburbs have
no food stores at all. In those that have them, only 16% of the stores are
healthy food outlets."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics