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Open AccessArticle

Do Urban Food Deserts Exist in the Global South? An Analysis of Nairobi and Mexico City

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Balsillie School of International Affairs, 67 Erb Street West, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 6C2, Canada
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School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED), Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3G1, Canada
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Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, University of Nairobi, Hyslop Building, Main Campus, Nairobi, P.O.Box 30197-00100, Kenya
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División de Ciencias Sociales, Departamento de Sociología, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana _ Azcapotzalco, Av San Pablo Xalpa 180, Reynosa Tamaulipas, 02200 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico
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Planta Académica de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana – Cuajimalpa, Vasco de Quiroga 4871, Contadero, 05370 Cuidad de México, CDMX, Mexico
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 1963; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11071963
Received: 10 November 2019 / Accepted: 29 March 2019 / Published: 2 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Food Deserts: Perspectives from the Global South)
Recent conceptualizations of ‘food deserts’ have expanded from a sole focus on access to supermarkets, to food retail outlets, to all household food sources. Each iteration of the urban food desert concept has associated this kind of food sourcing behavior to poverty, food insecurity, and dietary diversity characteristics. While the term continues to evolve, there has been little empirical evidence to test whether these assumed associations hold in cities of the Global South. This paper empirically tests the premises of three iterations of the urban food desert concept using household survey data collected in Nairobi, Kenya, and Mexico City, Mexico. While these associations are statistically significant and show the expected correlation direction between household food sourcing behavior and food security, the strength of these relationships tends to be weak. These findings indicate that the urban food desert concept developed in North American and UK cities may have limited relevance to measuring urban food insecurity in the Global South. View Full-Text
Keywords: Food deserts; food security; food sourcing; supermarkets; dietary diversity; Mexico City; Nairobi Food deserts; food security; food sourcing; supermarkets; dietary diversity; Mexico City; Nairobi
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Wagner, J.; Hinton, L.; McCordic, C.; Owuor, S.; Capron, G.; Arellano, S.G. Do Urban Food Deserts Exist in the Global South? An Analysis of Nairobi and Mexico City. Sustainability 2019, 11, 1963.

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