Food deserts

Here is an example of how educated people sometimes don’t get that the poor aren’t rushing to McDonald’s because they just love a Big Mac. This was a conversation stream on Facebook that started with the correct assumption that if people ate healthier food on the front end, they’d have fewer medical bills on the back end.

And then this (name changed to protect the guilty)

Uninformed person: Agree with this 10,000%, I am not rich. I don’t buy expensive produce. I make great meals, have fun and stay healthy- and anyone else can too, The real crux of the matter is that people do not want to cook. Because they consider it being work. So sad. My dinner tonight cost less than $2. Period.

Catherine Chapin Mayhew: Something to consider (from a nonprofit executive). Many times, it’s not that people don’t want to make their own meals and eat healthier. It’s that they live in food deserts where the closest grocery store may be four or five miles away and they often don’t have their own transportation. This is beyond people making a choice to eat poorly.

Uninformed person: There are places in the US with no supermarkets? Even Walmart sells fruit, vegetables, pasta and rice.

Catherine Chapin Mayhew Yes, there are places in the U.S. with no supermarkets that are accessible to poor people. Many places. So here’s the drill if you’re poor. Get on the public bus, which may or may not arrive even close to when it’s supposed to. Ride the four miles to the grocery store (that’s the accepted definition of living in a food desert), shop for your healthy food (but don’t get anything frozen – you’ll never get it home in time before it thaws). Get back on the bus. Hope you can carry all those bags, especially if you’re elderly. Go the four miles back and then carry the bags to your apartment. Oh, wait, you’re a single mother with three kids who is working two jobs. Can you get to the supermarket on the bus at 1 a.m.? Just some “food” for thought.

So, support some folks who are trying to do something about it. Hands On Nashville operates an Urban Garden. Click here to support them.

Here’s another one, the Nashville Food Project. Give them a look-see.

And here’s a third one, Community Food Advocates. Have a look.

Food deserts are the biggest obstacle to preventing childhood obesity, early diabetes and a host of other health problems. It’s not that people don’t want to eat healthier food. It’s that they don’t have access to it.

Food deserts

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