While we are finding ways to make food accessible, we should also have a plan to limit the abundance of unhealthy foods. This picture here: gives a clear view of how the United States Department of Agriculture, a United States Federal Executive department, perceives the Food Desert Crisis. Their focus is primarily on providing access to healthy foods and this is not enough. There are other factors involved that can help fight the crisis of food deserts. The Food desert crisis is not just an issue of food accessibility, it’s a problem that has to factor in other issues like the overabundance of fast food restaurants in low income communities and the unhealthy options offered to these people through the smaller, mom-and pop grocery stores. These are just a couple of the factors that I would like to address.
Take a look at the picture below that represents food deserts in America. What do we see? This picture speaks volumes about what is accessible in a Food Desert. This is a reality! We see fries, a burger, ice cream, popcorn and very little fruit. Only a banana and an avocado. This is a problem, yet represents the reality of what is easily accessible in a food desert.
Let’s take a look at Fast Food: People are more likely to make unhealthy food choices when fast food is the convenient and sometimes the cheaper option. One study showed, “”having at least one chain restaurant within a mile was associated with a 21.2% increase in frequency of fast food meals”” (Athens, Duncan, Elbel 7).
It’s not that the issue of fast food consumption only exist in low income communities. There’s heavy access to these places and less access to healthy foods, leaving these communities with very little choices. Many of these communities have supermarkets that are miles away and they lack transportation to get to them. According to different studies, there is greater access to fast food restaurants in low income and minority urban areas. “”Evidence is growing that access to an unhealthy food establishment increases consumption of fast food and fast food is a risk factor for obesity”” (Gordon-Larsen 2). Also, many researchers concluded that there are few to no supermarkets in low income areas and a great amount of fast food restaurants (Karpyn 2010).
Then there’s the problem of the local, small grocery store aka mom-and pop store: The local grocery stores in many low income urban communities are known for the sale of sugary, processed, high fat, high salt foods and lack of fresh fruit and vegetables.
One article stated, in New York City and other urban communities, small convenience stores and fast food places are the main source where people are purchasing food. In these neighborhoods, there are few places where you can buy healthy food and again, few supermarkets (Gordon 2011). Research shows, in Camden NJ there are approximately 120 small grocery and convenience stores with few healthy food options and lack affordable, fresh and good quality fruits and vegetables. In general, many people in food desert communities complain about finding fresh, quality healthy food in the local, small grocery store (Chrisinger 2018).
Experts say let’s bring the supermarkets back to these areas and equip the small grocery stores with healthy food. I propose that this is only a partial solution. Only encouraging food accessibility is not a solution. While the big (supermarkets) and small grocery stores are being equipped with incentives to help with fresh food, there should be restrictions on the number of fast food establishments that can open for business in low income communities. There should be some limitations and zoning put on fast food restaurants. This was an idea that was implemented in South Los Angeles, CA in 2008. Due to an increase in obesity rates amongst impoverished people, there was a one year long ban on new stand-alone fast food restaurants (Sturm, Cohen 1). Currently, this is an alternative that many municipalities around the country are considering. It may be a good idea to zone fast food restaurants to reduce access.
High access to unhealthy food makes the fight against food deserts ineffectual. We have to address the issues. It’s hard to believe that we live in a country where food deserts exist. But unfortunately, this crisis has hit impoverished areas in our country in a major way, especially our urban neighborhoods; where people live more than a mile away from access to healthy food and may not have transportation to get to their local supermarket, farmers market, etc. These are areas that are flooded with fast food restaurants and local grocery stores that sell foods consisting of high fat, high sodium, sweet and processed foods.
Many of these impoverished urban communities have people that are suffering and dying from all kinds of sicknesses and diseases because of a lack of access to healthy food. Supermarkets are leaving these communities and putting the fate of these people in the hands of the mom and pop neighborhood grocery stores and the fast food establishments. The argument is that people in these impoverished urban communities wouldn’t eat healthy even if they had access to healthy food, which is probably why you see many fast food restaurants thriving in these communities. One New York Times article, titled, “”Giving the Poor Easy Access to Healthy Food Doesn’t Mean They’ll buy it”” gave insight on a study where the consuming and purchasing habits of people living in one particular food desert didn’t really make an impact after access to healthy food (Sanger-Katz 2015). Could it be that people have been trained to eat foods that are not healthy because of years within a cycle with no access to healthy food? The cycle can be changed!
Let’s change the cycle! Here is an action plan:
A professional writer will make a clear, mistake-free paper for you!Get help with your assigment
Please check your inbox
I'm Chatbot Amy :)
I can help you save hours on your homework. Let's start by finding a writer.Find Writer