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Using GIS technology to visualize urban 'food deserts'

To better understand the availability of nutritious foods in urban areas, two Michigan State professors used geographic information systems (GIS) technology to create interactive maps illustrating Lansing residents' access to fresh produce. Medical News Today reports:

They found that many supermarkets have closed their stores that serve urban areas and have moved to the suburbs. They also showed that Michigan's state capital is a model for what's happening to food environments around the country.


One aspect on which the study focused was store locations. It showed that less than 4 percent of the population lived within a 10-minute walk of a supermarket. The researchers also looked at the cost in reaching those stores as well as the availability of produce at each retail location. They took into account everything from urban party stores, which may offer lemons and limes, to suburban box stores, which offer nearly 250 different produce items.

In the video above, the professors demonstrate the interactive maps and discuss the potential for city officials and community organizers nationwide to use the model in identifying "food deserts" and improving residents' access to healthy foods.

Previously: Mapping out our country's "food deserts"

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