09/18/2011 06:04 pm ET Updated Nov 18, 2011

Walmart's Fresh Food Venture: Can Superstore Solve America's 'Food Desert' Problem?

On a map of “food deserts” in Chicago, a red bow-tie-shaped splotch covers parts of Englewood, a historically working-class neighborhood on the South Side.

I’m driving through that zone with the man leading the city’s efforts to bring fresh food to communities that need it—Mike Simmons, the policy director for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. We pass brick houses, many decent and neat, but others boarded-up casualties of the foreclosure crisis. On a side street, two men push a shopping cart piled with heating ducts and other metal fixtures, likely stripped from vacant buildings. Empty lots dot blocks lined with storefront churches and chicken-wing stands. We pass a couple with a cooler and a half-dozen pump bottles for snow-cone flavoring. We pass many corner stores with signs that read Food and Liquor.

We don’t pass any supermarkets.

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