Retail Inequality: Reframing the Food Desert Debate (Paperback)

Before placing an order, please note:

  • You'll receive a confirmation email once your order is complete and ready for pickup. 
  • If you place a pre-order in the same order as currently available titles, an additional shipping fee will be added to your order. 
  • Women & Children First is not responsible for lost or stolen packages.
Retail Inequality: Reframing the Food Desert Debate Cover Image
Unavailable from our sources


Retail Inequality examines the failure of recent efforts to improve Americans' diets by increasing access to healthy food. Based on exhaustive research, this book by Kenneth H. Kolb documents the struggles of two Black neighborhoods in Greenville, South Carolina. For decades, outsiders ignored residents' complaints about the unsavory retail options on their side of town—until the well-intentioned but flawed "food desert" concept took hold in popular discourse. Soon after, new allies arrived to help, believing that grocery stores and healthier options were the key to better health. These efforts, however, did not change neighborhood residents' food consumption practices. Retail Inequality explains why and also outlines the history of deindustrialization, urban public policy, and racism that are the cause of unequal access to food today. Kolb identifies retail inequality as the crucial concept to understanding today’s debates over gentrification and community development. As this book makes clear, the battle over food deserts was never about food—it was about equality.

About the Author

Kenneth H. Kolb is Professor of Sociology at Furman University. He is the author of Moral Wages: The Emotional Dilemmas of Victim Advocacy and Counseling.

Praise For…

"Kolb helps dispel the food desert media frame that implies that food desert residents choose poor diets. Rather, the problem is racism."

— Symbolic Interaction
Product Details
ISBN: 9780520384187
ISBN-10: 0520384180
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: December 14th, 2021
Pages: 278
Language: English