Within my first two years of living in Chicago, I noticed that residents love to talk about which grocery store they shop at. We love to compare prices, organization schemes, products, and overall quality. Your store affects how you live your life. How fresh your produce is, the quality of meals you eat, and the what you can afford outside of grocery shopping. I have heard numerous debates over which grocery is best.
But as I explore more of Chicago I learn that some residents don’t have the luxury of choosing if Whole Foods or Mariano’s is best. I learned of the term “food desert.” This term applies to areas which lack food supply. Sometimes residents have to go walk long distances to get their food, and even then the choices for sustenance are sparse and bland.
I chose to focus on this food disparity in Chicago as my subject for my photography project. I chose 4 neighborhoods in Chicago: Lakeview, North Lawndale, West Loop, and New City. Each neighborhood is located in the North, West, central, and South parts of the city. I decided to go inside the grocery stores in each neighborhood and do a photographic exploration of what each was like. I found differences in advertising strategies, prices, layout, and most obviously, quality of products. To supplement the photos, I chose to display information about the neighborhoods. I included the population, the median income, racial demographics, and a map pointing out the location of each. It is (unfortunately) not surprising to find that high minority populations is greatest indicator that a neighborhood is a food desert.