Tag Archives: usda

Food Environment Atlas full of story ideas, data

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The Food Environment Atlas, produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, may be one of the best things to happen to folks who love maps and health statistics.

The folks at Daily Yonder have put together a little showcase of what the atlas can do, but it’s a testament to the Atlas’ astonishing depth that they’ve only scratched the surface. Want a county-by-county map of the relative price of low-fat milk versus sugary drinks? How about the percentage of households with no car that live more than a mile from the nearest grocery store or even the level of tax charged for salty vending machine snacks? No sweat!

With county-by-county information about food taxes, physical activity, socioeconomic characteristics, rates of diabetes and obesity and lots more, reporters should find a treasure trove of story ideas and data. And the data behind the application is available to download as an Excel file.

Jeff Porter, AHCJ’s resident data guru, says the site features “great underlying documentation and enough info to join up with any county-level data with the same geographic codes.”

The data for the map is collected from the CDC, the National Cancer Institute; the USDA, the National Farm-to-School Network and the Bridging the Gap Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

(Hat tip to John Hale at The Rural Blog)

NYT’s Moss continues to follow E. coli story

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The national gag reflex alert level has slipped back to “yellow” in the months since New York Times reporter Michael Moss’ epic rendering (pun intended) of the journey that meat (and the E. coli that tags along) take on the way to your hamburger patty, but that doesn’t mean Moss has abandoned the issue.

Moss’ latest reports have followed the evolution of the issues raised by his report (and related earlier efforts). Since that first story, Tyson’s started to clean up its act (or at least let others clean that act up for them), the pinpointing of another outbreak ratcheted up the pressure and lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require that ground beef components be tested for E. coli.