Food Desert Subject Headings

ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee 

Question/Answer on cataloging issues – April 2014

By Wade Kotter, Weber State University

Question: What subject headings are used for “food deserts” and related topics?

Answer:

The Agricultural Marketing Service of the U. S. Department of Agriculture defines “food deserts” as follows:

“Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.” (http://apps.ams.usda.gov/fooddeserts/foodDeserts.aspx)

Unfortunately, the Library of Congress has not yet established a subject heading for this specific phenomenon. Instead, researchers must either search for “food desert,” “food deserts” and other related terms/phrases anywhere in the record, or they can combine established subject headings from two or more of the following subject heading categories with the Boolean operator and (eg. “Food security” and “Urban poor”):

1. The Library of Congress provides two subject headings that deal with access to adequate food and overall availability of food, two key aspects of the concept of “food deserts;” both of these headings may be subdivided geographically:

Food security

Scope Note: “Here are entered works on physical and economic access to adequate food. Economic works on the availability of food are entered under Food supply.” (http://lccn.loc.gov/sh2009007706)

Food supply 

Scope Note: “Here are entered economic works on the availability of food. Works on the physical and economic access to adequate food are entered under Food security.” (http://lccn.loc.gov/sh85050339)

 2. The Library of Congress provides several headings relevant to other concepts and subject areas related to the concept of “food deserts”; each of these headings may be subdivided geographically:

Convenience foods

Convenience stores

Farm produce

Fast food restaurants

Food

Food consumption

Food industry and trade

Food law and legislation

Food prices

Food service

Fruit

Fruit trade

Grain

Grain trade

Groceries

Grocers

Grocery trade

Grocery shopping

Meat

Meat industry and trade

Processed foods

Produce trade

Restaurants

School children – food

Snack foods

Street food

Street-food vendors

Vegetable trade

Vegetables

3. The Library of Congress has established several subject headings relevant to the potential health impacts on people of all ages living in areas considered to be “food deserts;” each of these may be subdivided geographically:

City dwellers – Health and hygiene

City dwellers – Nutrition

Diabetes

Diabetes – Nutritional aspects

Diet

Diet in disease

Heart – Diseases

Malnutrition

Malnutrition in children

Malnutrition in infants

Minorities

Minorities – Health and hygiene

Minorities – Nutrition

Nutrition

Nutrition disorders

Nutrition disorders in adolescents

Nutrition disorders in children

Nutrition disorders in infants

Obesity

Obesity in adolescence

Obesity in children

Poor

Poor – Health and hygiene

Poor – Nutrition

Public health

Rural health

Rural poor

Rural poor – Health and hygiene

Rural poor – Nutrition      

Urban health

Urban minorities

Urban minorities – Health and hygiene

Urban minorities – Nutrition

Urban poor

Urban poor – Health and hygiene

Urban poor – Nutrition

4.  Finally, the Library of Congress has established several subject headings related to programs and activities designed to improve access to fresher, healthier and more affordable foods in areas considered to be “food deserts;” each of these may be subdivided geographically:

Backyard gardens

Community gardens

Farmers’ markets

Food cooperatives

Gardens

Gardening

Green roofs (Gardening)

Indoor gardening

Indoor gardens

Kitchen gardens

National school lunch program

Nutrition policy

Roof gardening

School breakfast programs

School milk programs

Sustainable agriculture

Sustainable horticulture

Urban agriculture

Urban gardening

Urban gardens

Vegetable gardens

Vegetable gardening

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