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Durham Food Chain Landscape Visualization

Project Overview

The food landscape of Durham includes all aspects of food chain from production, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal and is embedded in a regional, national, and global food system. This landscape will focus on food access in Durham. The specific goals of this project were to visualize grocery stores, restaurants, and convenience stores across the city, to identify food deserts/food apartheid and food swamps, as well as to analyze correlations between the demographics of census tracts and food access.  This project was a collaboration between the Duke World Food Policy Center and North Carolina A&T State University, supported by NSF National Research Traineeship Project Improving Strategies for Hunger Relief and Food Security using Computational Data Science.

Project Outcomes

The research team published Visualizing the food landscape of Durham, North Carolina in the journal Stat, Volume 10, Issue 1, December 2021, e347, authored by Joseph L. Graves III, Gizem Templeton, Lauren Davis, Seong-Tae Kim.  The reference is  This paper also appeared in the 2020 Symposium for Data Science and Statistics.

The abstract is as follows: In partnership with community leaders of Durham, North Carolina, the Duke World Food Policy Center is creating a Durham Food Justice Plan (DFJP) for envisioning an equitable food system. The Food Justice plan serves to incorporate Durham’s local food history in terms of combating historical and present injustices in the food system. We propose creating an integrative, interactive visual for DFJP to view the food landscape of Durham, which will be utilized to study its relationships with the people living in the area where these establishments reside. We created a food landscape platform in Tableau using multisource data including Durham’s food vendor data from North Carolina’s Department of Commerce and census data for demographic data, neighborhood labels, and street and highways. We incorporated the Google Geocoding API and the aggregated information based on census blocks and tracts in visualization. We produced a variety of maps and graphs to highlight diverse relationships. The food landscape visualization allows us to see interactive patterns among food vendors and demographic data in Durham. We expect to utilize the developed landscape visual for insightful statistical analysis on food inequity issues.

Joseph Graves poster



  • Gizem Templeton, Duke World Food Policy Center
  • Joseph Graves, NC A&T
  • Seongtae Kim, NC A&T
  • Tina Berryman, NT Program Coordinator, NC A&T