Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Title

Starved: Food Deserts in the Mississippi Delta

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

M.A. in Southern Studies

First Advisor

Kathryn Mckee

Second Advisor

John T. Edge

Third Advisor

Charles R. Wilson

Abstract

This thesis examines the impact of food deserts on obesity, and builds a case for additional research on rural food deserts independent from urban ones. The Mississippi Delta consistently presents the highest obesity rates within the state, yet both the third unhealthiest county (Quitman) and the healthiest (DeSoto) are located in that region. One of the reasons there is such a large discrepancy between the health rankings of DeSoto and Quitman counties is that DeSoto is contained within the Greater Memphis Metropolitan Area, but Quitman is entirely rural. Previous research has focused on the prevalence of urban food deserts and resulted in scattered support from corporations like CVS and Walgreens to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables; but the characteristics of urban food deserts and the solutions that are effective in resolving them are not always applicable to rural areas, where corporate presence is often limited to fast food restaurants. Using case studies of these two counties, this thesis identifies the challenges that are specific to rural food deserts and presents potential solutions.

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