The Ration

The Ration Logo


Click a point on the map to hear an audio portrait and learn more about the neighborhood.

Fresno sits in the middle of the Central Valley, one of the highest-producing agricultural regions in the country, where historical farmhouses, upscale subdivisions, fruit orchards and strip malls coexist within city limits.

Yet many people here lack access to healthy food.

The soundscape map features a tract of land in southwest Fresno that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated as a food desert. The government considers 81.5 percent of the people here to be low-income, and all of them are considered to have low access to food. The Food Research and Action Center ranks Fresno as the city with the worst rate of food hardship of any metropolitan area in the United States. And as often happens in the US, hunger coincides with obesity. Thirty-six percent of adolescents, ages 12 to 17, are overweight or obese.

Like many American metropolitan areas, Fresno is diverse, but segregated by class and ethnicity. Latinos make up about half the population of Fresno, and there are significant communities of Armenian and Hmong people.

The project was inspired by the field of soundscape ecology, an area of study that uses the sounds of an eco-system to interpret its health. What if we can better understand the health of a community through the way its food sounds?