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USDA Food Environment Atlas Maps Out Local Food Options

The US Department of Agriculture has launched an interactive map showing the availability of local and healthier food options throughout the U.S.

map showing physical activity rates among US adults

Photo: USDA

This particular view of the Food Environment Atlas shows the levels of physical activity among adults. The darker shades of pink indicate more physical activity.

Your Food Environment Atlas is an interactive map managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Economic Research Service that shows information on food accessibility and statistics on the overall health of counties across the country.

The project has two main stated objectives:

  • To assemble statistics on food environment indicators to stimulate research on the determinants of food choices and diet quality
  • To provide a spatial overview of a community’s ability to access healthy food and its success in doing so

Users of this interactive atlas can create a custom map that offers just the information they want to access. For example, its possible to create a map of the country that just displays farmer’s markets locations, or, obesity rates.

The atlas contains three types of data:

  • Food Choices: shows price, proximity and accessibility of regional food options which inlude restaurants, health food stores, farmer’s markets, grocery stores and convenience stores
  • Health and Well-Being: gives regional information on obesity and diabetes rates and levels of physical activity.
  • Community Characteristics: offers information such as community demographic statistics, socioeconomic characteristics and locations of recreation and fitness centers

Confronting Food Deserts

According to Slow Food USA the atlas aims to illuminate the existence of regions that have little to no access to healthier food options. Michelle Obama uses the term “food deserts” to refer to these areas.

Watch Michelle Obama announce her plans to confront food deserts as a apart of her Let’s Move campaign:

Learn More: Your Food Environment Atlas (USDA.gov)

Laura Bult

Laura Bult is a spring intern with Earth Eats and a senior at Indiana University majoring in International Studies, with minors in English Literature and Spanish.

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