The USDA Economic Research Service’s Food Environment Atlas and Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America provide a wealth of data on health issues and determinants (causes). Boasting an easy-to use interface the Food Environment Atlas deals with a very wide range of issues including grocery store access, restaurant expenditures, food assistance, food insecurity, food prices, local foods, health and physical activity information (e.g. obesity, fitness facilities), and socioeconomic characteristics. There is online documentation and data can be downloaded in Excel format.
The Atlas of Rural and Small-Town America adds even more information about people, jobs, the character of agricultural production, and levels of urbanization. Again documentation is available and data can be downloaded.
|Food stall in Stockholm. Photo: Ann Forsyth|
How people get access to healthy food is a concern to many. I’ve recently had some requests for information. Design for Health resources include an “issues sheet” with ideas for incorporating food into planning and a research summary. Links include a food security assessment, also featured on an earlier blog http://healthymetropolis.blogspot.com/2010/11/tools-food-security-assessments.html
The APA’s national healthy communities center has a food interest group is also a terrific resource as are its numerous publications on this issue: http://www.planning.org/nationalcenters/health/food.htm
|Oakland, California (Photo by Ann Forsyth)|
- One such tool is the Food Security Assessment. In 2002, the USDA Economic Research Service published a well-known Community Food Security Toolkit: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/EFAN02013/ with the entire toolkit at http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/efan02013/efan02013.pdf. There are other toolkits around, with many good tools developed for use internationally in areas likely to suffer substantial food shortages, but this one by aU.S. government agency may be a good place for others to start.
- The USDA web site provides helpful information about food security in the U.S.: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/FoodSecurity/. A 2007 USDA Food Security Assessment provides an example at the international level: http://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/GFA19/. However, using the methods in the toolkit, local communities can do this as well.
As blogs have proliferated some have begun to deal with health and places. Below I list a sampling of the range of such sites, many dealing with health issues as part of a larger interest in topics such as urban development or housing. They are in alphabetical order.
|From State of the Planet blog|
Healthy Cities (http://healthyurbanplanning.blogspot.com/) is the blog of Jason Corburn, a faculty member at Berkeley. It focuses on highlighting resources such as reports and statistics and has an international flavor.
State of the Planet (http://blogs.ei.columbia.edu) is a compilation of blogs from the Earth Institute at Columbia University. It is by far the most elaborate in this list with fancy graphics, multiple contributors, and obviously represents a lot of staff time. It has a useful keyword search.