The Reality of Life in An Urban Food Desert


People living in food deserts also find it difficult to locate foods that are culturally appropriate for them, and dietary restrictions, such as lactose intolerance, gluten allergies, etc., also limit the food choices of those who do not have access to larger chain stores that have more selection. Additionally, studies have found that urban residents who purchase groceries at small neighborhood stores pay between 3 and 37 percent more than suburbanites buying the same products at supermarkets.

The High Cost of Being Poor

Healthier foods are generally more expensive than unhealthful foods, particularly in food deserts. For instance, while the overall price of fruits and vegetables in the US increased by nearly 75 percent between 1989 and 2005, the price of fatty foods dropped by more than 26 percent during the same period. While such inflation has strained the food budgets of many families regardless of their financial status, the higher cost of healthy foods often puts them entirely beyond the monetary means of many lower-income people.

The Consequence of Cheap Food

While unhealthy eating may be economically cheaper in the short-term, the consequences of long-term constrained access to healthy foods is one of the main reasons that ethnic minority and low-income populations suffer from statistically higher rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other diet-related conditions than the general population. Whatever their age, obesity puts people at a greater risk for serious, even fatal health disorders particularly coronary heart disease and diabetes,] the first and seventh leading causes of death in the US respectively.

Shining a Light on Food Deserts

Public awareness of the formidable problems posed by food deserts is growing, thanks largely to the efforts of community activists, entrepreneurs and government officials committed to increasing people’s access to healthy food options. Million investment from the government focused on providing tax breaks to supermarkets that open in food deserts.  Many urban areas are also implementing initiatives locally to solve their food desert challenges.

Food Deserts are Real in Chicago

In Chicago more than 500,000 residents mostly African-American live in food deserts, and an additional 400,000 live in neighborhoods with a preponderance of fast food restaurants and no grocery stores nearby.  Some food justice activists have sought to close this gap by opening food co-ops in under served areas where supermarkets have historically been unsuccessful. In addition to selling fresh and organic fruits and vegetables, bulk whole grains and beans, and soy-based meat substitutes, some of these stores also offer cooking and nutrition classes to educate the public about making healthy food choices.

The Roots & Vine Solution

Roots & Vine Produce and Café Inc., is a start-up aiming to revolutionize the convenience store concept.  “Connecting Farmers To People & Reconnecting People With Real Food.” Their core mission is to target and eliminate food deserts in blighted neighborhoods, create jobs for the communities They serve as well as specialized franchise opportunities. They are dedicated to building relationships with family farmers nationwide to supply our locations, that will increase their bottom line and provide Roots & Vine Produce and Cafés with the best quality produce available.

They are offering communal space alongside the store gives each location the possibility to connect with people of the community, host workshops, classes, food demos and healthy dialogue with customers to introduce to them healthier food options, recipes and solutions to reduce food related illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.


Please visit Roots and Vines offer as they sprout up in food deserts across the country and will quickly make the new startup a household name. Inserting themselves into blighted communities and providing fresh produce, bulk dry goods and essentials in areas that need it most and creating new markets for Black farmers.  

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