Poor nutrition and low Houston property values are just two of the negative consequences of so-called "food deserts" – urban areas where there are insufficient grocery options available to residents, according to a recent editorial in the Houston Chronicle.
To reach the per-capita average number of grocery stores in the area, the paper's editorial board says, Houston would need to add 185 facilities. This means that there are areas of Texas' largest city "where it's easier to buy beer than milk and hard to find an unfried potato. Chips and soda? No problem. Fresh greens, broccoli or grapefruit? Dream on," the board writes.
Economic development grants could make all the difference, according to the Chronicle piece. Providing a financial incentive for turning relatively downmarket Houston real estate into a grocery store could quickly spike property values and health in many areas, the paper writes.
Improved local property values could be, in turn, an incentive for gentrification in many areas, with condo developments and other housing options sprouting up, experts say.