Food desert. 

The phrase immediately brings to mind a wasteland. A hollow in the earth devoid of the most basic of necessities: sustenance.

Many of us live in neighborhoods with ample grocery stores, farmer's markets, and a variety of restaurants to choose from. It's easy to forget that numerous communities lack these very resources we so often take for granted. Food deserts are a very real and occasionally overlooked phenomenon with a complicated history of structural racism and inequality.

Discussing one such food desert in America's capital, is Author and Professor Ashanté M. Reese in her new book Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C. (available on Amazon here).

In this incredible resource, Reese breaks down the historical processes that led to a decrease in general stores, supermarkets, and other locations to purchase food and other necessities in the predominantly Black neighborhood of Deanwood, D.C.

Through her study of residential segregation, systematic racism, and gentrification, the reader is able to recognize patterns and see multiple "Deanwoods" not only in America's urban areas, but throughout the world. 

While she writes of the disenfranchisement, she also speaks on the incredible self-reliance, strategy, and community of the residents. This study identifies and amplifies Black Resilience and shows how life continues to go on despite living with  a backdrop of food inequality. 

Check out the New Books Network podcast to hear Ashanté M. Reese discussing her work here or wherever you listen to podcasts. 

You can also read an article here discussing the book and Reese's work in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Now it's your turn.

  • What are your thoughts about food justice and the systematic inequality that contributes to the creation of food desserts?
  • Is this an issue you were aware/unaware of?
  • Any ideas on next steps going forward?

Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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