A Fine-Grained Look at Food Accessibility

Researchers at Michigan State University have recently raised the bar for quantifying food accessibility. They visited 94 retail locations in Lansing and East Lansing and recorded the presence or absence of 447 food items. From there, they mapped the pedestrian and automotive accessibility zones for each of those items, showing what parts of the city had (for example) bananas, roma tomatoes, or soft drinks within walking range. Finally, they’ve supplemented their accessibility methods with demographic data, comparing how easily people different racial groups, income ranges, or BMIs can access fresh and junk food.

Check out a tour of their work (warning: includes formulas), a few of their maps, and their interactive tool.