Choosing and Siting Food Access Interventions: Food Mirages and Produce Stands in Portland, Oregon
ABSTRACT: While Portland, Oregon, gains renown for supporting locally grown, sustainably produced, healthy, or otherwise “good” food, it has failed to ensure equitable access to said food. As parts of the city gentrify, dislocated Portlanders find themselves without access to fresh produce, contributing to health disparities among low-income and minority residents. This research sought to understand issues of food access among populations displaced by gentrification and determine the best locations for produce stands as a method to increase access to fresh produce. It examines the concept of the food mirage by studying the coverage of grocery stores in Portland and proposes an alternative intervention, produce stands, as a pedestrian-scale approach to address gaps in grocery store accessibility for those without transportation. Calculations using geographic information systems (GIS) determine the ideal locations for produce stands in walkable areas not served by transit or fruit and vegetable markets and that house a high number of residents displaced by gentrification. The methodology returns appropriate sites in East Portland, a historically underserved area of the city facing disparities in obesity-related chronic disease. This paper contributes to the research and practice of food systems planning by incorporating indicators of gentrification-driven displacement as well as the built environment into a process of spatial analysis to expand consumption of affordable produce while providing entrepreneurship opportunities for disadvantaged residents. Food justice activists can use this methodology to determine areas of need and account for assets of the built environment in order to site a food access intervention that remains largely underutilized in North American cities.