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Are there food deserts in France? Insights from a relational approach of the urban foodscape in Montpellier

Abstract : In the U.S., studies highlighted a relation between foodscapes and socioeconomic status of neighborhoods. Accessibility and availability of healthy food stores, i.e. stores selling fruits and vegetables (F&V), are low or null in some deprived neighborhoods, and lower than in wealthier neighborhoods. These deprived spaces are food deserts. This spatial approach of food have been criticized for naturalizing problems related to the domination of corporate agro-supply chains. When not complemented by a qualitative approach, maps fail to capture the practices that affect food consumption patterns among the poor. As shown by Hammelman (2018), urban environments inhabited by low-income people are dynamic, stretching across multiple neighborhoods. Our presentation aims to address this debate using a relational approach considering that there is a relationship of mutual reinforcement and reciprocity between people and place. In France, almost all food stores sell F&V. We propose a relational approach of the foodscapes in the Montpellier metropolitan area, confronting the spatial distribution of F&V outlets (a standard store buffering approach), with the food provisioning practices of inhabitants (approached by 30 in-depth interviews). Our results highlight that few neighborhoods are deprived of F&V outlets. They also show the diversity of the “everyday practices” by which inhabitants move throughout the city to obtain affordable, quality, and culturally appropriate food. They developed abilities to navigate among places and food choices. We hence propose to use the notion of food desert to question spatial disparities in the food system and to capture how people “use their foodscapes”.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 6:49:07 PM
Last modification on : Friday, May 20, 2022 - 9:04:18 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-03143470, version 1


Christophe-Toussaint Soulard, Simon Vonthron, Coline Perrin. Are there food deserts in France? Insights from a relational approach of the urban foodscape in Montpellier. AAG 2020 - Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, Association of American Geographers, Apr 2020, Denver (Online conference), United States. ⟨hal-03143470⟩



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