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Ethan Epstein
Defining Food Deserts Down « Back to Story

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More on UK's food deserts at www.fooddeserts.org
Providing more convenient access to fresh, healthy food and encouraging its consumption is ALWAYS a good thing, regardless of how one parses the definition of "food desert." I can think of far worse uses for my tax dollars than what Portland is doing here.
Even better, three blocks down from that Grocery Outlet in St. Johns is... a Fred Meyer.

St. Johns is not a huge place, and has two full-size grocery stores, as well as the Grocery Outlet.

But then, around here, we're used to the City and County and Metro wasting money on "sounds good" initiatives.

(And the idea of needing an overpriced Whole Foods or New Seasons to serve "under-served" (poor) neighborhoods is the sort of madness only Portland or SF could manage.

Trader Joe's fills the same cultural niche, but at least has competitive prices.)
A few years ago, I lived a couple of blocks away from the only grocery store in the central area of a small Northern Plains city. It had large amounts of frozen, box mix and deli prepared foods, junk foods, a reasonable amount of fresh and frozen meat/fish/poultry, frozen vegetables, dairy products,and a very limited amount of fresh produce (potatoes, apples, carrots, bananas, oranges,iceberg lettuce etc), plus a reasonable grocery section (cereals,breads,canned food,rice, beans, flour etc).
The store was sold to a corporation owning a number of other groceries in the area, and the store was re-furbished and the produce options were significantly expanded. Within a few months, the selection was back to its original parameters, because the produce spoiled before it sold. Looking at what went through the checkouts, most customers bought lots of frozen pizzas/entrees, prepared foods, junk food and drink, cigarettes, beer and lottery tickets. People did not buy what they did not like (quelle shock) and those of us who wanted lots of options shopped at either of the two large (75-90,000sq ft)groceries a few miles away (almost everyone had a car) - both of which had wide choices in almost everything. Bottom line; these programs are a waste of taxpayer money.

Ethan....need a bodyguard?
As per usual, the government steps in where they oughtn't tread, and mess things up. I spend a fair bit of time in the Portland area, have been through the St. John's area many times, as well as nearly every other significant part of Portland... and they call it a "food desert"? Someone is smoking some strange plant material.

I have little doubt, knowing what I do of Portland's political system, those getting the perks are somehow connected to those doling them out. It is NOT a matter of behaviour modification, rather that of lining the pockets of those deemed "more worthy" than those who don't get the lining. Glad I don't LIVE inside Portland any more (I used to.... never again). Their government is rather on the barmy side of things. They fund a crazy expensive and inefficient public transportaion system (Tri Met busses and Max trains)at a huge taxpayer burden, and now this boondoggle. Talk about pork..... and the Portlanders are asleep.....
B. Samuel Davis June 20, 2012 at 4:39 PM
None of this has anything to do with food. it is all about power. The people who get these subsidies will be donating part of the money back to the candidates of the party that gave them the grant.

The program is corruption, plain and simple, done by the masters of corruption - the Democratic Party. This organization is pernicious.
This is a very interesting and timely article, but I think the author needs to give us some concrete examples of communities with "genuine fresh-food access problems" that are being overlooked as he does with the faux food deserts.
I live across the street from a large housing project. We have a supermarket in our building, close to the housing project. When you walk in, you enter the produce department, filled with fresh, healthy food. But at the checkout counters there is plenty of junk food. The choice is there for consumers. The poor people who live in the project and also in my own building do not make healthy choices, as I see standing at the checkout line. They shouldn't be forced to eat spinach when they prefer twinkies. Members of my own family are twinkies-eaters, while I'm a spinach-eater. The result of eating unnutritious foods is temporary happiness and a shorter, sicker life. That's a choice people are making, and if I can't get my sister to eat healthy food, how does the government expect to force spinach on people who want twinkies?
But will the progressively-minded tax-paying residents in Portland have a beef with such initiatives? Naaaahhhh. . . .
This is actually fascinating, as zoning laws have been outlawing the corner store now for some 50 to 60 years. Overlay zoning of older neighborhoods have applied residential zoning to those stores, so if they close for some period of time, the zoning becomes residential. New suburban residnetial 'hoods never saw the stores to begin with. This forced people into cars for any groceries, and once in a car, it matters not a hlaf mile or two miles (or 10 to Costco). So again, laws created unintended consequences, and yet more laws are supposed to 'fix' the problem. The conceit of the progressive agenda.
Since essentially every other industry in the country gets big government handouts -- farm subsidies that go primarily to Big Ag, low-priced leases that go to Big Coal, huge bailouts when Wall Street firms go belly-up, $130 billion a year to pay for people's mortgages (primarily the affluent) -- why shouldn't a few grocery stores get something?

Try to keep your eye on the ball, not the dust bunnies in the corners.
Another 'layer' of wealth transfer. Tax incentives are one thing but when you see the word 'grants', that's taxpayer money. So what you have here are areas where the folks that do their shopping at the 'extant' stores are actually paying more for their food because everyone's taxes are being diverted into places to establish produce sections or what ever.

But, again, another 'layer'. Be it mass transit 'passes', food stamps, on and on...Sadly those that live under all those layers don't even know they're right where the dependency culture elitists want them to be.
I live in a food desert. (A lot of students rent in my nbhd, which makes it below-average incomewise.) Dang. It's more than a mile to the nearest grocery store.

But things could be worse. I could live in a common-sense desert, where words mean nothing or less than nothing and the inside of a grocery store can be deemed a food desert if it's more than 50 paces to the checkout counter.