Health consciousness has risen exponentially in recent years. Consumers are inclining towards healthy lifestyle and growing utilization of additional nutrition. Certainly, with this increasing awareness there is also a growing demand for healthy food and supplies in the market. New York City is an urban hotspot and the population here keeps soaring, which has become a major factor for the swelling demand of healthy consumer goods.
As favourable as this is for healthy foods stores, certain parts of the city are not receiving enough supplies as compared to either their population strength or area. The most plausible reasons for this can be socio-economic. For instance, areas which lack sufficient commute routes, or impoverished neighbourhoods would not be the most profitable ones for business.
This reflects on the economic and infrastructural divide in the city. More significantly, the very areas that have scarce healthy stores are inhabited by particular races.
Datasets and Materials
- Recognise Shop Healthy Stores
- DOHMH Farmers Markets
- Racial demographics by borough
- Data on poverty levels per borough
- Shapefile – NYC boroughs
- Shapefile – NYC subway lines
- Tableau Public
The datasets hold information about the location coordinates of the healthy stores and farmers market in all five boroughs of NYC. After I merged the two datasets, I started by mapping the coordinates of the stores on Carto. I added the shapefiles of the borough areas and subway lines. The map identifies each borough by a different color and presents the area-wise density and scarcity of the stores in NYC. By adding the subway map I intended to make apparent the correlation between the city’s most vital mode of transport and availability of healthy stores.
The following visualizations were made with Tableau.
The line map compares borough-wise healthy store concentration with borough area. The orange line depicts the store concentration while, blue the area. The tree map presents the poverty distribution among the five boroughs. Bronx being the highest and Staten Island the lowest. Finally, the bar graph marks the population per borough by race i.e. White, Black/African American, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian and Other Specific Islander, and others.
It was not difficult to find health and fitness conscious people. I had a chance to speak to and interview friends, colleagues, and gym members. Except a couple ardent fitness aficionados, none would most likely make a trip to a distant specialising health store or farmers market on a regular basis. They try to make the most out of what they can procure in the vicinity, unless they can find a healthy foods store near to or on the route to workplace. Price has been said to be a factor too. Stores which specialise in healthy consumer supplies are clearly not cheap, especially when compared to your local market rates.
However, there are people who only order food online or go to a whole foods outlet. The people who do so reside in Manhattan. More than cost-effective, these consumers were concerned with time-saving and ease.
New York City’s key transport system is the subway. The map makes it evident that areas with sparse subway-commute are deficient of healthy stores. Staten Island has just four healthy foods market. While there is heavy concentration in particular areas, other neighbourhoods on the subway map are not entirely deprived, but have enough stores at regular intervals.
Manhattan seems to have a proportional amount of health stores area-wise. Brooklyn and Bronx have a strong supply in terms of count, but they are concentrated in specific neighbourhoods and scanty in other. These are also the areas which are most poverty-stricken in NYC, but also most populated. Queens and Staten Island have less supply compared to area, at the same time their population is relatively lower.
Considering the racial segregation of the population, African American and Hispanic communities, which constitute the bigger portion of the population, reside essentially in the underprivileged boroughs. Here, the distribution of healthy stores is unbalanced.
User Research validates what is already found in the data – Manhattan is the most balanced borough in terms of health food stores and supplies. The borough also has the kind of demand for the supply. Inversely, Staten Island is the most deprived.