Inga Saffron: Creating Asphalt Wastelands in the Name of Fighting Food Deserts

March 24, 2016 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

We keep hearing that Philadelphia needs to eliminate its food deserts so everyone has easy access to fresh meat and produce. It's an important step in fighting poverty. But what exactly should a healthy neighborhood look like?

That was the question posed by this year's Better Philadelphia Challenge, the student competition organized by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects . The winning entry, by a team from the University of New Mexico , showed idyllic scenes of lush community gardens, compact urban greenhouses, and shady pocket parks, all sensitively threaded into a typical rowhouse neighborhood.

OK, maybe the renderings were a bit too idyllic. But the students were drawing on ideas that have become standard in many cities. Neighborhood farmers' markets are already regular events in Philadelphia , thanks to groups like the Food Trust . People are more likely to seek out fresh food if the purveyors are within walking distance of their homes.

Even though that's become the new prescription for creating healthier cities, Philadelphia officials and local development groups remain stubbornly wedded to an old remedy: the auto-centric supermarket.

Read the complete story at Architectural Record's website.