This chapter introduces the history of infrastructural exclusion. In the early 1900s, retail grocers established nimble ways to extend supply chains from downtown wholesale districts into dispersed urban neighborhoods and into inner-ring suburbs. In search of competitive advantages, some firms bypassed wholesalers and replaced storage facilities in the urban center with their own regional distribution centers. The transformation of the retail food system around the movement of higher volumes and more varieties to more places heightened uncertainty and competition and led to wide-ranging economic mistakes and bankruptcies. As infrastructural interdependencies extended into new suburban territories, they also excluded areas, leaving behind urban neighborhoods and inner-ring suburbs that were dependent on older models of food distribution and market coordination. This process of infrastructural exclusion gave rise to the urban food deserts of the 1970s.
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