2018/08/30: Reese, an assistant professor of anthropology at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, has joined a number of scholars who are pushing back against the food desert model. She calls it a “lazy” shorthand to describe both a series of corporate decisions and a complex human ecosystem.
“Language matters,” says Reese, who explores these issues in a new book, Black Food Geographies, due out next year. Use the wrong words to describe the problem and you end up with one-dimensional solutions that don’t address the root causes of poor diets.
Both the U.S. and British governments have emphasized supermarket-building as a way out of their country’s nutrition woes.
Yet there’s “limited causal evidence” that this strategy improves diets, according to a 2017 report by economists from New York University, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago.
They analyzed food-purchase data to understand the complex reasons why affluent Americans eat healthier than their poorer counterparts and concluded that leveling the grocery field would “reduce nutritional inequality by only 9 percent.”