Urban Food Deserts

As Ecotone continues to focus its mission on tackling food waste and its contribution to the climate crisis, we must also continue to understand the intersectionality of social justice and environmentalism as it pertains to the American food system. One of today’s greatest food issues is emerging in the form of urban food deserts that affect primarily people of color and those living in poverty.


The title “food desert” is prefixed with the term urban because they are defined as city centers where low-income people have poor access to vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods. Basically, grocery stores are finding themselves as increasingly significant players in the system of oppression that exists in America.  Today, urban food deserts are emerging all over America and the effects of a lack of optimal supermarkets transcends multiple areas of concern that disproportionately affect BIPOC.  Lack of access to healthy food only increases health issues in a community where access to affordable health care is already inadequate. As food stands as one of the basic tenants of overall wellness, it is easy to see how urban food deserts can perpetuate the disadvantages of these urban communities. While physical access to a grocery store is the main creator of food desserts, financial access is also an important point to note. In some areas, there maybe be 1 or 2 local grocery stores, but these stores require a membership fee to shop there, while the opposing store with no fee or a smaller fee just does not offer the same quality as the more expensive place. The idea that someone would have to pay just to be allowed to enter a store where they inevitably pay for goods is a denial of a right to one’s personal health and well-being. 


Urban food deserts are a growing problem, and if not addressed will continue to develop a public health crisis that will deny nourishment to entire communities and perpetuate the social injustices in this country. Ecotone is working directly to tackle this problem by building the Seahorse system in urban communities to help revitalize soil, produce fertilizer, and grow fresh produce. This is all done while reducing food waste and closing the food loop.