Food access: It’s complicated.

As prep for a forthcoming review I have of Mary Mazzio’s lovely documentary on New York City’s Green Carts, The Apple Pushers,  I’m finding I need a one-stop link to studies that complicate our understanding of food access.


  • The Institute of Medicine held a symposium on the topic in 2009. Most notably, they found that the only direct nutritional link to obesity was overconsumption of sweetened beverages, aka soda; limited access to fresh food was not direclty correlated with obesity.
  • A 2006 report from Mari Gallagher consulting group, analyzing food access and health outcomes in Chicago, suggested that food balance—i..e not overwhelming healhty food options with unhealthy ones—is as, or more, important than food access.
  • A 2009 USDA report found that easy access to all kinds of food, rather than limited access to healthy foods, was more closely related to rises in obesity.

There’s also the recent survey of 1,500 low-income families by advocacy and service group Cooking Matters, which found that:

most low-income families are satisfied with the availability of good food…The greater obstacles to healthy meals are planning skills, time and, yes, price.

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