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Journal of Ethnobiology

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Grocery trade -- Willamette River Valley (Or.), Food security, Migrant agricultural laborers


Food insecurity, often correlated with “food deserts,” affects migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFW) at greater rates than other populations. Our research evaluates the food desert experiences of MSFW communities in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Through GIS mapping, interviews with MSFW, and food retailer inventories, our research helps elucidate the degree to which the geographical distribution of food retailers and the products they carry affects MSFW. Access to food retailers was assessed for distances of 0.25, 1.5, 5, and 10 miles. Mapping locations of registered MSFW labor camps (n = 62) and food retailers (n = 215) in the Willamette Valley revealed access to a food retailer within 0.25 mile for one labor camp and 1.5 miles for 46% of camps. All MSFW camps had access to a food retailer within 5 miles. Our research further suggests that using distance alone to determine food deserts may be deceptive as these numbers do not show the types of food retailers and challenges that MSFW in rural labor camps, who often lack access to personal vehicles and public transit, encounter when shopping for nutritionally and culturally appropriate foods. Migrant and seasonal farmworkers in the Willamette Valley experience significant physical and economic barriers to food access, especially culturally appropriate foods.


Published 2014 by the Society of Ethnobiology.



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