In recent years, access to food for particular areas in the United States, both rural and urban, has become problematic. Big box retailers have put smaller community grocers out of business and are typically not located in rural areas. Food insecure areas are generally known as food deserts, a term that has entered the popular nomenclature. The USDA attempts to capture areas that are food insecure through the creation of mapping tools that rely upon particular indicators, such as geographic distance to a supermarket, availability of a vehicle, and alternative sources of food. Phelps, the site of this research project, is a small town in northern Wisconsin that once had a supermarket which closed down due to competition from larger supermarkets in other towns in the area. Along with travel to surrounding areas for food, residents of this town procure some of their food in ways not considered on the USDA research tool. They hunt, fish, forage, and grow backyard gardens. This paper argues that the tools developed by the USDA, and the concept of food deserts as described in the literature, do not capture the unique experience of the residents of this town. Ethnographic research provides a lens through which to critique and complement current tools and literature around the topic of food security and food deserts.
"Food in a Rural Town: The Complexities Of Procurement,"
Field Notes: A Journal of Collegiate Anthropology: Vol. 6
, Article 4.
Available at: https://dc.uwm.edu/fieldnotes/vol6/iss1/4