2. Food Swamp vs. Food Desert
While “food swamp” may be a relatively new term, you may well be familiar with the term “food desert,” which according to representatives at Toronto Public Health, describe areas with an abundance of convenience stores and the lack of access to supermarkets.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) a food desert is characterized as a “low income [rural or urban area] where a substantial number of residents have low access to a grocery store.” The USDA reports that approximately 23.5-million Americans live a mile or more in distance from a supermarket with limited access to fresh produce, meats, and healthy foods, which contribute to the U.S. obesity epidemic.
3. Geography Promotes Food Swamps?
Unlike a food desert, which is largely limited on the income (as well as the car and public transport options in an area), a food swamp is largely geographical in nature.
For instance, Toronto Public Health describes food swamps in high-income areas as “domineering in unhealthy food [choices],” but residents have options to travel by car to buy healthier food…whereas lower income people in food deserts don’t have that option.
4. Income Level and Food Swamps
Nutritional scientists at University of Toronto’s Lana School of Public Health agree that food swamps don’t depend on the income level of a neighborhood. Food swamps, opposed to food deserts, exist in both high and lower income areas of cities.
Scientists attest food swamps purely to bad city (or urban) planning, according to professors of food security and nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto. With food swamps, limited unhealthy food choices are driven by high transit costs and lack of access.