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Highlighting food inadequacies: does the food desert metaphor help this cause?
- McEntee, Jesse
- British food journal 2009 v.111 no.4-5 pp. 349-363
- food availability, food supply, food choices, eating habits, geographical distribution, socioeconomic status, human nutrition, food security
- Purpose - Food deserts are an attractive metaphor, but because defining this phrase and actually identifying food deserts as geographic places are a contentious endeavour, it is more revealing to discuss related terms. Inherent in the debate around food deserts (i.e. how they are defined, if and where they exist) is the topic of access. The central purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that access is a more accurate and less misleading concept than food deserts when it comes to highlighting food inequalities. Design/methodology/approach - Social exclusion, choice, food security, and public health are fields on which the paper draws. The proposition is that food security studies have entered a postmodern food security paradigm, which can readily be seen in US-based community food security efforts. Findings - Progressing beyond the initial attention-grabbing nature of the food desert term, a conceptually thin foundation is discovered that impedes universal understanding and acknowledgment that areas of inadequate food access do exist. Food access, on the other hand, is an established phrase that has evolved and been applied in different arenas to address food security. Food access is a readily understood concept that can be tailored to specific applications; whether it is physical, economic, or informational food access. Originality/value - It is proposed here that access is a more accurate and less misleading concept than food deserts when it comes to highlighting food inadequacies.