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Desert Companion

Twinkies and beef jerky for dinner again?

This issue is about DEALicious Meals — the mega-caloric, hyperglycemic fun starts on page 26! — but you know the old saw about too much of a good thing. Here’s the problem: Tens of thousands of Las Vegans live in “food deserts.” Oh, there’s food, all right — if you consider candy bars and microwave burritos food. A food desert is a low-income area with little access to fresh, nutritious eats. In poorer areas in Clark County, many residents — often without cars or other transportation — live more than a mile away from a grocery store that sells stuff that doesn’t come in a processed patty, paper bag or microwaveable box.

That’s according to the recently launched Food Desert Locator website (, developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. A quick calculation of the census tracts deemed “food deserts” in Clark County suggests that more than 51,000 residents do much of their grocery shopping at places like 7-Eleven. And last time we checked, there weren’t any broccoli Slurpees.

A perusal of the site reveals the following:

• Much of North Las Vegas has limited access to grocery stores, including areas bounded by Rancho Drive, Cheyenne Avenue, I-15 and Washington Avenue.

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• East Las Vegas, especially the area around Tropicana Avenue and Boulder Highway, is designated as having low access to grocery stores.

• Hey, tourists gotta eat, too: Much of the Strip is labeled as having little access to nutritious food. Looks like tourist who’s craving something besides restaurant or buffet fare better be prepared to catch a cab — or build up that appetite by walking.