Yesterday, the United States Department of Agriculture unveiled its latest online tool: an eye-opening map of the nation's "food deserts."
These food deserts (marked in pink above) are places where there is "low income" and "low access"—or places where at least a fifth of the population lives at or below the poverty line and where there isn't a supermarket within a one-mile radius (or within a 10-mile radius in rural areas). All things told, about 13.5 million people nationwide have little or no access to stores selling healthful food.
The complete dataset is downloadable, so it should spawn mash-ups. The USDA has also created the Food Environment Atlas, which maps factors ranging from food taxes to farmers' markets (below). What correlations can we make about the absence of food deserts and farmers' markets?
The data's impressive and certainly opens up opportunities to map other connections: What's the impact of healthy corner stores, walkable school districts, or even McDonald's locations on food deserts? Could we put the "Wal-Mart as food desert solution" theory to the test?
Map: USDA (via Alex Howard).