Urban Food Deserts: Perspectives from the Global South
This special issue of the Sustainability Magazine calls for both empirical studies and theoretical discussions of urban food deserts in the Global South, with a focus on a broad range of issues such as food accessibility, food affordability, urban food sources, informal food economies, supermarketization and the food security characteristics and consequences of food deserts, as well as urban policies that contribute to or mitigate the existence and development of food deserts. The industrialization of the urban food system, alongside the proliferation of supermarkets, has dramatically transformed the landscape of food accessibility in cities. In many countries, especially the US, the spatial consolidation of food provisioning has deprived many urban neighbourhoods of easy access to food, particularly foodstuffs integral to a healthy diet. These often socio-economically disadvantaged urban areas are referred to as “food deserts”. However, studies of urban food deserts in cities of the Global South are sparse, given their complicated urban food systems with the strong presence of informal food economies and diverse food sources. One article interrogates the potential value and risks associated with the adoption of the discourse of the food desert in the African context. Another article explored demographic and socio-economic factors associated with food purchasing characteristics of supermarket shoppers and the perceptions of their neighborhood food environment. A study in Brazil investigated the availability and food sources in urban areas and identified inequalities in the geographical distribution of food retailers that commercialize (un)healthy foods. The influence of the proximity to wet markets and supermarkets on urban household dietary diversity was explored by a study in China.