The idea of the "food desert," which even Michelle Obama has made a centerpiece, may not be real, according to the NYT Research section.
First, this research, while clever enough is not a thorough dismantling of the food desert idea, though it does undermine it.
Second, the national discussion of obesity/nutrition/eating habits seems to be so fraught with unchecked assumptions that it might be best if we all just mentally reset our thoughts on the matter to "Well, we aren't that sure of what we're sure of." Like education, parenting, and other homey topics, everyone seems to think their feelings about what should be the right answer must be true.
The old Bedford NH town history - the one that has my grandmother and her friends at Pulpit Rock - records a preacher at the 150th anniversary of the town (about 1900) admonishing the women of Bedford
that the reason the children of the current generation were not so
hardy as their forebears was because they did not get enough of that
good dark oat bread their Scottish ancestors had. And those mothers had
better get cracking on that.
Third, Danger, danger Will Robinson! The government response, from Justin DeJong at the Department of Agriculture, claims that a "comprehensive response" is what is needed. I am previously on record warning that left or right, these are words that should send any practical person screaming. Comprehensive anything is doomed. Fix manageable bits, dammit.