How far away is your nearest grocery store? If you live out west, probably much further than the rest of the country, as shown by this visualization of America's "food deserts," where the closest grocery is miles away.
Flowing Data put together this look at the kind of access Americans have to food, using data from Google Maps. When you look at the map, you see a series of red lines of varying lengths. They start at towns and end at the nearest grocery stores. In places like the population-dense metropolitan area stretching from Washington, D.C. to New York City, where there are grocery stores every couple of blocks, the lines are just about undetectable. However in rural West Texas, where stores are few and far between, the lines resemble miniature explosions.
And long distances to Kroger or Publix seem to be pretty normal for a huge chunk of Americans. Flowing Data shows that for 36 percent of the country, the closest store is more than ten miles away, and the median distance is seven miles. The map looks about like what you'd expect—in rural areas there are fewer stores, whereas in urban areas there are a lot of choices. Of course, easy access to food is an important thing to have. So next time you complain about how hard it is for you to drive five minutes or walk a few blocks to get some milk, think about how the other half lives. [Flowing Data via Digg]