I honestly didn't know what category to put this in so I guessed, tossed it where it lay, and figured someone would correct me later. Either way...
I was reading a weight loss blog (because I recently married and gained enough "relationship gut" that my favorite dresses are a bit tighter than I like) and the blogger found a correlation (or coincedence!) between obesity and distance from grocery stores. Now, we all know that proper nutrition and exercise are the first defense against obesity but if you feel you live too far from a grocery store your alternatives are fast food, restaurants and the food sold in convenience stores most of which is processed and, last I checked, devoid of fresh vegetables.
The spouse and I were looking at maps of carless households, rates of obesity and distance from a grocery store and debating if it were a correlation or a coincidence. We finally figured that it's a chicken / egg situation of "Which came first?" Are there no grocery stores because the citizens in that area wouldn't shop there or do the citizens not shop there because there are no grocery stores?
http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html/ midway through the page is a map of obesity rates by state.
http://labs.slate.com/articles/food-deserts-in-america/ Percent of households, by US counties, without a vehicle that lack a grocery store within a mile. I'm going to say right now, a mile isn't far to walk, and I'll admit that. But it's incredibly unpleasant during weather extremes or with small children so please consider those people when commenting on how lazy one must be if you're unwilling to walk a mile.
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/11/28/us/20091128-foodstamp... Foodstamp usage in the US.
Very interesting. I've blamed the rise in obesity over the past 40 years on more processed foods/junk foods. The lack of non-processed options at corner stores and lack of convenience in getting to a grocery store is an interesting combo, though.
One thing that has changed over the past 40 years is the size of grocery stores. When I was a child, most groceries came from the corner grocery - something that doesn't really exist anymore since the super grocery stores have killed that market. A corner grocer is no longer even really feasible, since the variety we demand just wouldn't fit on the shelves of a corner store. Growing up, our 'Italian options' were spaghetti, tomato sauce, and Kraft pizza mix (dough mix/pizza sauce). Now there are 8 sorts of pasta, regular/whole wheat/spinach/(sometimes tomato flavoured) from 3 manufacturers along with 10 different flavours of tomato sauces from several manufacturers - plus pre-packaged alfredo, carbonera, rosée, etc, etc.
The rise of the megastore... Smaller stores would make a good deal of sense. They can stock products that their niche of the community specifically wants and smaller ones could be in more locations thus allowing you to walk there from your own home. There would also be less of a need to stock everything because, hey, it's right down the street!
Maybe the increasing popularity of online shopping will do for grocery stores what eReaders did to book stores. I know I already get about a fourth of my non-perishable goods from online retailers simply because I can buy them in larger quantities at lesser cost and many offer discounted or free shipping for large orders.