There's little if any reason to believe that a similar trend is not playing out in rural areas all over the country, and could be problematic for small town economies. "This trend can be contributing to the decline of smaller towns. I don't know that we always think about the impact we are having on our local economies," says Vanessa Wielenga, Nebraska's assistant extension educator for food access and availability.
The poll also showed that rural Nebraskans liked the quality and selection they get from out-of-town supermarkets, and that's more of a priority to them than finding a store closer to home. It's not all bad news for rural food providers, though: 44 percent of those surveyed said they buy food from a farmers' market or community-supported agriculture, in which consumers sign up for regular deliveries from local farmers.