Mapping Food Deserts from Michigan State University

Posted by GIS talk On Friday, March 04, 2011
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Two Michigan State University professors have developed interactive maps that offer a visual perspective of urban food deserts. By using GIS (geographic information systems) technology, they are showing, rather than simply telling, how urban residents are losing access to fresh produce and balanced nutrition.

Phil Howard, assistant professor of community, agriculture, recreation and resource studies, and Kirk Goldsberry, assistant professor of geography, conducted their research in Lansing. They found that many supermarkets have closed their stores that serve urban areas and have moved to the suburbs. They also showed that Michigan’s state capital is a model for what’s happening to food environments around the country.

The maps give residents, city officials and community organizations an outreach tool to visualize their food environment. Having a highly detailed method to examine each city’s food environment provides a graphic illustration of areas where produce is abundant and where it’s lacking, Howard said.

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