Where do food deserts occur
Link to Desertia food desert map. See this map for locations mentioned below.
URBAN FOOD DESERTS
Follow links below to see pictures of these food desert areas.
This type of ‘food desert’ actually has rather good physical access to shops; in recent years local branches of the main supermarkets have opened there, for example Tesco Express, Sainsbury Local, Marks and Spencer Simply Food. It is a Docklands former industrial area, now converted to upmarket executive offices and flats, close to Desertia city centre. The city centre too has seen residential development since 2000. However many of the busy office workers who live in Workoholia Docklands or city centre are prone to ‘presenteeism’, and work long hours to impress the boss. They are well-educated and know they should eat a balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables; they also buy ready meals for the days they are late back from the office and too tired to cook. All too often the ready meals are all that are eaten; the fresh vegetables bought from Waitrose go bad before they ever get near a cooker.
Another food desert with apparently good access to shops. Innistan is an inner city area with a substantial south Asian ethnic minority population. There are numerous independent grocers stocking south-Asian type vegetables. However these shops have relatively high prices against the low wages many residents of Innistan are earning, due to lack of economies of scale and relatively long and inefficient supply chains. Since 2000 some Asian supermarkets have appeared, also Chinese supermarkets. Many Asians here are eating too few of the vegetables and too much in the way of sauces high in fat. Innistan also contains some White pensioners who were on low wages when they had jobs as dockers at Workoholia and so cannot afford to retire to places like Touristrapley. These poorer pensioners see no shops they want to use locally in Innistan, and may travel a long way to find a discount supermarket like Aldi or Lidl to shop at.
Next to Innistan, the inner suburb of Poulton also has a large ethnic minority, this time from eastern Europe. There are many Polish delicatessen shops, selling bread, sausages, and other ethnic-minority foods, also off licences, but far fewer fresh fruit and vegetable shops than in Innistan. Some larger Polish / East European shops have started vto sell vegetables, aimed at the Polish market. Many streets in Poulton are several hundred metres from the nearest fresh fruit and vegetable shop, though Tesco Express has a shop along the main road to Pramley.
A decayed former industrial inner suburb where many White pensioners live, who were former factory and dock workers. Spending power is low here and most shops sell little in the way of fresh fruit and vegetables. The area has few supermarkets, because of the lack of spending power here. A Food Bank opened here in 2011 and it is always busy.
Blockedbury is an area of lower-income terraced houses, close to a major retail park with a big Morrison. However the Eastern Retail Park is across a main road which is hard to cross for pensioners and mothers with children. There was a pedestrian subway here but it was filled in ten years ago because of the risk of street crime. There is a pedestrian bridge a kilometre away along the Publeston Road but few pensioners want to trek along to here and it is windswept and cold in the winter. That leaves a surface level crossing, which requires several stages to cross the entire road. The lights are phased against pedestrians, because to keep the traffic on hold long enough to enable a pensioner or a mother with children to cross the entire road would cause major tailbacks. The crossing is therefore hazardous for young mothers, pensioners, and the disabled.
A suburban shopping street which has become the main retail area for students from Resittes University. Many former bakers have become sandwich bars, fishmongers have become fish and chip shops, and greengrocers have turned into florists. There are numerous burger bars and takeaways but few fresh food shops. Many retail premises along Swampley High Street are now charity shops, second hand book shops, hairdressers, and financial services outlets.
A suburban area with many student flats. This has some fresh fruit and vegetable shops open during term time, but in the long summer holidays the resident population of Studesmarsh falls by over a third and many of these shops close, or cease selling fruit and vegetables, because of the spoilage rate of fresh foods that remain unsold. The more permanent residents of Studesmarsh find themselves living in a temporary or seasonal food desert, as well as coping with the closure of schools and other facilities that come with studentification.
Up in the hillier part of Desertia City, Toffbury Hills was developed around 1890 with many large Edwardian villa homes. The majority of households here have cars and drive to Toffbury Village to shop, or the Sainsburys supermarket just beyond if parking space in Toffbury is scarce and the local traffic wardens are out. However a substantial minority of Toffbury Hills residents are old and infirm and have given up driving. A few others have had their car stolen, or it has broken down, or have been disqualified from driving (the nearest pub is down in Toffbury Village, too far to walk to). Of course, many can easily afford a taxi, but quite a few here are older pensioners, living in houses too big and expensive for them, on lower pensions, but not wishing to leave the area for a retirement home down in Swampley (near the noisy students).
In complete contrast with Toffbury Hills, Chaffton is a 1950s council estate; it is 99.5% White and has earnings that are below 70% of the national average. Many lost their jobs when the large car plant at Redundia (qv) closed in 1983, as production moved to South Korea, and unemployment here is twice the national average. The level of education is low and few here know how to cook, or what constitutes ‘5-a-Day’. Researchers from Resittes University were told that ‘chickpeas come from chicken’ and that potatoes and strawberry ice cream counted as part of a day’s Five-a-Day vegetables portions. Other children from here believed that tomatoes grew underground, cheese came from plants (maybe they were thinking of cheese plants?), and many of these children had never visited a farm. There are a few discount supermarkets here, but most of the local shops have closed or become neighbourhood drop-in centres, and none of the local grocery shops sell fresh fruit and vegetables, beyond a few potatoes, onions, and very old carrots.
10) Cemetery Parade
Close to Chaffton, Cemetery Parade was built in the 1950s with several suburban shopping parades with 4, 6, or 8 shops in each. As individual shops closed, especially in the smaller parades, footfall declined to such an extent that the remaining shops also began to close. Many were converted to non-retail uses such as storage areas, housing association offices, or even houses. A few parades here, the larger ones close to the Aldi or Lidl, are surviving but most are moribund or dead.
Once there was a large manufacturing industrial estate here, with its own branch line out from Desertia Docks. However these days all the manufacturing work has gone overseas, and local unemployment amongst the mainly unskilled workforce here is twice the national average. There are few shops still open here, as local spending power is low, and of these shops, none sell fresh fruit and vegetables. There is little demand for such foods here, as many here have little idea how to cook them, and the children probably won’t eat them anyway. This makes local mums on low budgets unwilling to buy them even if they could afford the bus fare down to the nearest fruit and vegetable retailer, an Aldi near Pramley Retail Park, because such food would be wasted if served to the kids.
Many former employees of the Redundia Industrial Estates lived in Pramley. Pramley now has high unemployment levels, and many single mothers on Benefits who cannot afford childcare and find getting a job which pays, given the expensive childcare, is hard. As withy Redundia, there are few shops still open, none selling fresh fruit and vegetables, and knowledge of how to prepare fresh vegetables is generally sketchy.
RURAL FOOD DESERTS
Spraulton is a market town north-east of Desertia, with a thriving centre. However Spraulton has suburbs of its own extending a mile or two out from the centre. Bus services run along the main roads out from Spraulton, but many people live away from these routes, and have quite a long walk into Spraulton Market from here. For the retired people, accessing food from the suburbs is quite difficult. It is especially difficult for residents in northern Spraulton, along the Forest Road; this is a steep road, and bus services along here into Spraulton are quite infrequent.
A charming picture postcard village, inhabited mainly by wealthy commuters from Desertia. These commuters tended to do a big weekly shop at the Eastern Retail Park, occasionally doing a top up shop at the small village shop in Publeston. However this trade was not enough to keep the post office going, and the local school closed, making the mothers travel into Desertia to a larger school there. The commuters were away all day, so the local pub closed too. With no school, pub, or post office, the local village shop lost trade and is to close next week, leaving the village bereft of any food shop at all. There is only a minimal bus service, as many villagers own cars, leaving the elderly rather stranded.
15) The Littletons
An area of scattered hamlets and single houses, over about six square miles between Spraulton and Publeston. There has never been a shop here, because the area has no clear centre to come to, although the total population is well over a thousand; many of these are middle-aged and have no car. The bus to Spraulton runs only three times a day, two days a week.
16) Seekers Point
Since the frontier war between Syria and Iran restarted a few years ago, many refugees have come to the UN camp set up by the former gravel pits next to the Tiddal River Estuary. The population at Seekers Point has passed three thousand, but there is no food shop here, and few can afford the long bus journey into Desertia. Local charities provide some culturally appropriate food, but most asylum seekers here have a low level of benefits and tend to eat little in the way of fruit and vegetables. Most of their diet is rice and sauces, high in fat and sugars.
Once served by a branch line railway from Bypaston, but this closed in the Beeching Cuts in 1967. Because Erewhon Village is on a peninsula, it has few buses going there. Many older people from Desertia City retired out here, and these villages now have a large number of widowed women who never learned to drive or owned a car themselves. The isolated nature of Busless Green means mobile shops, who travel along the main road to Touristrapley, don’t tend to divert off here, because the cost of fuel is high and sales may be low in return.
Since the by-pass opened a few years ago to cater for holiday traffic to Touristrapley, a retail park opened on the by pass here. However the lack of passing trade in Bypaston centre means many food shops there have closed, and residents from the Widoston side of town have a long walk to the grocery shops. Although Bypaston Retail park is only a couple of hundred metres from Bypaston centre, and offers free parking for 3 hours, few visitors to the retail park ever venture down past the old Gasworks Alley into Bypaston High Street.
A holiday area for day trippers from Desertia. There were some guest houses here but most have closed or are converted into unemployment hostels or accommodation for the homeless. Touristrapley High Street has few food shops but a large number of tourist shops selling beach toys, deckchairs, and the like. As a local Councillor said, “you can’t eat picture postcards of Shipwreck Bay”. The High Street also has a large number of burger takeaways, but no fruit and vegetable shops at all. There is an excellent farm shop out on the coast, with a small zoo and other attractions for the children, but this is too far to walk for the mainly poor and unemployed or low-wage residents of Touristrapley, without cars. In 2010 the local church opened a Food Bank in the church hall here, but there is no fresh food, only tinned, and demand always exceeds supply, especially in the winter months when many of the (low-paid) seasonal tourist jobs have gone. Recent cutbacks in Benefit Support have hit the poor hard, and several times in the last month the Food Bank has run out of supplies entirely.
Up the Tiddal River from Desertia, Ridgemarket has a thriving town centre, with a very good grocery shop. However the upper part of town lies some one hundred metres vertically and ten minutes walk away from the centre, and is too far from some people to carry their groceries back home uphill. A local charity called Ridge-Away! has tried to run a shuttle bus for the elderly and disabled, but had difficulties obtaining consistent funding for this and the vehicle had to be sold when it failed its MOT and there was no money to repair it. The Ridge-Away! staff have largely given up on making grant applications because each application took reams of paperwork, took 2 weeks to prepare, and was often rejected.
A smaller market town halfway between Ridgemarket and the outskirts of Desertia; Underridge never developed the range of shops that Ridgemarket did. Consequently, most residents of Underridge found they could not do a complete shop in their small town and tended to travel to Ridgemarket or into Desertia. As the only butcher in Underridge then closed, this made the shopping situation there even worse and gradually the trade of all remaining shops at Underridge has tailed off. Underridge is close to being a food desert, as its last remaining grocer is to close later this month.