Monday, February 10, 2014

Quantifying the Extent and Cost of Food Deserts in Lawrence, Kansas, USA

Lucious F. Hallett IV, D. M. (2010). Quantifying the Extent and Cost of Food Deserts in Lawrence, Kansas, USA. Applied Geography, 1210-1215.

A group of scientists used Geographical Information Systems (GIS) programming and maps of Lawrence to question the "assumption that 'gaps' in the map are food deserts where the population is excluded from quality food and its associated health benefits."

They began with creating a map of all full-service grocery stores in the area.

Next, they surveyed the population to determine their transportation method and distance from these grocery stores. Using this data, they created cost surfaces, which are estimates of how much it costs to travel through or transport through a particular section within a grid.  From the cost distance raster, the team managed to gather information on various sections of the city.

They found that the "southwest quadrant of the city is a food desert only for individuals without cars, while the adjoining exurban areas are far enough from grocery outlets to constitute a desert for both walkers and drivers." This is a relatively wealthy area it can be likely there is residential opposition to construction and traffic so close to their nice homes.

The northeast is more explainable through the great concentration of poor residents and the fact that there is not enough room to place a highly functional and large grocery store due to infrastructure created as far back as World War Two.

In general, these food deficient areas are most likely to be associated with planning and zoning decisions, the development of particular kinds of neighborhoods, and development patterns well over 50 years old.

In conclusion, "whether one is in a desert is a function of individual preferences, the location of the food outlets, and the transportation methods available."

1 comment:

  1. I can't tell from your images, but is there a clear analysis of the socio-economic, racial, gender, etc. placement throughout Lawrence so that we can understand why there is a food desert here or is it just that it is a largely rural area?