Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tossing out hypotheses?

It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him young.
-Konrad Lorenz

This week's news brought a story that remind me that sometimes, the best science involves letting go of previously held hypotheses.

Access to quality, health food, particularly fruits and vegetables, is something that has occupied a good deal of news space in recent years. And with good reason. If people can't get healthy food, all the health education in the world telling them to eat it isn't going help. The result has been a lot of attention on food deserts - the lack of supermarkets in certain neighborhoods. How pervasive are these food deserts and what do the food options look like in these areas? Jim Griffioen takes a powerful look at this in his hometown of Detroit over at Urbanophile. He shows, in great detail, the incredible depth and breadth of quality locally owned food purveyors within Detroit. He also points out that a quick Google search locates a number of smaller chain grocery stores. Does Detroit have a Whole Foods or Super Target? No, but Griffioen argues they don't need one. I have been reading his personal blog for some time and one of my favorite series has always been his photos of the family's "haul" from Detroit's Eastern Market. The photos highlight an incredible diversity of delicious looking produce and food that is locally grown or produced. Kudos to Griffioen for pushing journalists and researchers to examine these questions in more detail - and draw new conclusions when the data indicates it.

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