Geographic Theory - University of St. Thomas

Geographic Theory and GIS
Michael Kreutzer & Zach Hirsch
University of St. Thomas
Food desert:
low socioeconomic status
limited access to healthy and affordable food
So what?
Friction of Distance
3 years of diet related deaths
 People in food deserts are more likely to die
prematurely from poor diets
Introduction of large retailer to food desert
 “The significant shifting away from limited
range/budget stores as the main source of fruit
and vegetable purchasing that we have
observed in the post-intervention period lends
support to the view that in the pre-intervention
period these respondents were in fact
constrained by physical and economic access to
this type of store.” ⁴
GIS Analysis
Reference USA
Distance Calculation
Diversity Index
Low Diversity
High Diversity
PCI 2000
0 - $18,000
$18,000 - $28000
$28,000 - $44,000
$44,000 - $95,000
Education Rates
Low Education
High Education
John F. Kain, 1968
Housing Discrimination
Movement of entry-level jobs
Early 1990s, 87% of the new jobs in the lowerskilled service and retail trade sectors were created
in the suburbs
These low-skilled jobs can serve as a first step in
breaking the cycle of poverty (U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development 1997)
The suburban flight of retailers has left urban areas
with small grocers and fast food restaurants as the
main sources of nutrition, especially in minority
Social groupings
Created by uneven distribution of power and
Spatial patterns are a direct result from these social
It’s not as important to recognize where these
spatial groupings occur, but rather how space
itself creates a structure that shapes society
• “Where marginalized groups
live is not simply a reflection of
a history of social exclusion. In
addition, this positioning
actively reflects future
employment and housing
options… so what was a spatial
reflection of economic and
social marginality becomes a
spatial constraint on economic
advance and social mobility”²
Graphic courtesy of Susan J Smith
Agency: “The capabilities of particular human
beings to pursue certain courses of action”¹
Structure: “Social contexts and constraints
within which [human] actions [are] situated”
Farmers Markets?
¹ Cloke, Paul; Crang, Philip; Goodwin, Mark. (1999) Structure-agency. Introducing Human Geographies. *Needs more
² Smith, Susan J. (1999) Society-space. Introducing Human Geographies.
³ Larsen, Kristian; Gilliand, Jason. (2008 April) Mapping the evolution of ‘food deserts’ in a Canadian city:
Supermarket accessibility in London, Ontario, 1961-2005. International Journal of Health Geographics.
⁴ Wrigley, N., Warm, D., Margetts, B., & Whelan, A. (2002, October). Assessing the Impact of Improved Retail Access
on Diet in a 'Food Desert': A Preliminary Report. Urban Studies
Whelan, A., Wrigley, N., Warm, D., & Cannings, E. (2002, October). Life in a 'Food Desert'. Urban Studies
Akiko S. Hosler, Deepa T. Rajulu, Adrienne E. Ronsani, and Bonnie L. Fredrick. "Assessing Retail Fruit and
Vegetable Availability in Urban and Rural Underserved Communities." Preventing Chronic Disease Vol 5
Elizabeth A. Baker, Mario Schootman, Ellen Barnidge, and Cheryl Kelly. “The Role of Race and Poverty in Access to
Foods That Enable Individuals to Adhere to Dietary Guidelines.” Preventing Chronic Disease Vol 3 (2006).
Miller, Lynne. "Study Finds Dearth of Mainstream Supermarkets in Metro Detroit." Supermarket News 55.27(July 2,
"Healthy foods harder to find in poor neighborhoods; wealthier areas offer residents more nutritious items in stores,
studies find.(Report)." Consumer Health News (English) (March 6, 2009)
Ihlanfeldt, Keith R. and Sjoquist, David L. (1998) The Spatial Mismatch Hypothesis: A Review of Recent Studies and
Their Implications for Welfare Reform. Housing Policy Debate • Volume 9, Issue 4 849. Fannie Mae Foundation.
Smelser, Neil J. ; Wilson, William J.; Mitchell, Faith. (2001) America Becoming. National Research Council, Commission
on behavioral & social sciences. National Academic Press.
Data Sources: Reference USA online directory; ESRI Blockgroup Data.