Sunday, July 26, 2009

Food Deserts: Our Problem, Not Theirs

Eating a healthy balanced diet is challenging enough in our modern, fast-paced society. Thankfully, many people are fortunate enough to live in an area with access to convenient, healthy and affordable food. However, many are not so lucky. There are many parts of our country where finding inexpensive and affordable food can be a daunting task. “Food Deserts” exist when there is lack of access to healthy and affordable food. I live in downtown Portland, OR, a city where a healthy snack is always within arms reach. However, I am reminded of the problem of “food deserts” when I travel outside of city limits and am hard-pressed to find anything resembling healthy, unadulterated food. It may appear that there are plenty of food options, but in reality some of the stuff that is passed off as food these days is little more than high fructose corn syrup and lacks any nutritional value. In fact, not only does some food lack any nutritional value, but it may even be detrimental to our health, leading to things such as, diabetes and a myriad of other problems.
Food deserts are a problem that affects not just those living in the designated areas, but the community at large. Studies show that there is a direct correlation between poor access to food and poor health. A study titled, Examining the Impact of Food Deserts on Public Health in Chicago, done by Mari Gallagher Research and Consulting Group, states that,” Communities that have no or distant grocery stores, or have an imbalance of healthy food options, will likely have premature death and chronic health conditions” (p. 6). In addition to the individual suffering, the community at large suffers, as resources are needed to care for the problems that are created. The problem of “food deserts” needs to be addressed for both the health of the individual and the health of society and the economy.

-Briana Surin

Works Cited: http://asap.sustainability.uiuc.edu/members/sagra/LaSalleBank_FoodDesert_ExecSummary.pdf

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