San Francisco

San Francisco

New Orleans

New Orleans

Atlanta

Atlanta

Making a mess while cutting tomatoes didn’t lead to malnutrition or strengthen cycles of poverty but I hope it helps show why access to healthy foods should be a human right.

Cutting Into Urban Food Deserts

USDA food desert data, Processing, Illustrator, plastic sheets, knife, tomatoes

A series of food preparation mats with cut voids representing the difficulties of living with poor food access in New Orleans and Atlanta

thanks to Jer Thorp


food desert is “a geographic area where affordable and nutritious food is difficult to obtain, particularly for those without access to an automobile.” Food deserts occur in low income, and often rural, communities. Having lived in New York City and Atlanta, I have experienced two extremes in urban food accessibility and wanted to demonstrate the difficulties poor food access presents.

Using US Department of Agriculture food desert data, I created a series of cutting maps that represent the food access situation in San Francisco, Atlanta, and New Orleans. This set portrays the extremes in urban food deserts with San Francisco having the best urban food access and Atlanta and New Orleans having the poorest food access. In Atlanta, food access falls along racial lines with “four times as many supermarkets in predominantly white neighborhoods as in black neighborhoods” and “only 8 percent of African Americans living in a census tract with a supermarket”, according to one study.

A cut void in the map represents a food desert: a place where a resident would have to struggle to find healthful foods.

The messy aftermath: New Orleans & Atlanta

The messy aftermath: New Orleans & Atlanta