Friday, July 3, 2009

Food Deserts; week 2; Abdelrahman Odeh

"Food deserts" are places in urban areas where people have limited access to healthy, fresh, and reasonably-priced food. The only options are hard-bitten markets where you can find cigarettes, cheap beer, and packaged snack foods, but nothing like apples, pasta, or milk. In Portland and Seattle, food deserts tend to be in low-income neighborhoods or suburbs where many residents rely on transit service or foot-power. (Think parts of Northeast Portland for example.)

Without ready access to decent grocery stores, residents end up over-spending, or buying food with limited nutritional value, or both" (Place, 2009). Fresh fruits and vegetables (so important for a healthy diet) are in short supply, if they exist at all. And you can forget about local and organic food. So food deserts can result in poor health, tight budgets for those who can least afford it, or long cumbersome bus trips to other neighborhoods. Worse, the problem of grocery access is most severe for the elderly, single parents, and the disabled. It's not just an urban land use issue: it's a problem with profound social justice implications. According to Health And Fitness News By Paige Parker, she states that nationally, food deserts originated with the urban flight of the 1960s and 1970s and locally here in Oregon some time in early 1980s "convenience stores replaced supermarkets, high-calorie processed food replaced fresh, and a generation of poor people and minorities gained weight and developed chronic diseases" (Parker, 2008).

Of course, the best long-term solution to food deserts may be to turn them green. We should be promoting compact walkable communities that support local businesses and grocers and especially so in low-income areas. Having ready access to affordable healthy food shouldn't be a luxury of the upper classes, it should be a basic building block of all city neighborhoods (Place, 2009). Being able to solve this problem starts by looking at the basics of the source, and looking forward and into what could help people with transportation and disability issues.If we start with the assumption that all people need to have access to fresh foods, it’s clear that food deserts are a huge issue. They contribute to the combination of malnutrition and obesity that is a national public health issue. Fortunately, there are many strategies that cities and community members are taking to make fresh food accessible in inner cities such as farmers markets, community gardens, food Co-ops, community supported agriculture, and grocers online.

After reading "Changing Minds" by Howard Gardner, I realized that his thoughts of the seven steps that must be taken in order to bring this problem to the public and to "open their minds" must be dealt with rationalization and reasoning. Doing our research is a must so that the message is heard around us and should be represented in a way that shows that we know our resources being related to current world events and consider the downsides of tackling the issue of Food Deserts. So according to Gardner, we must really do our research well, then approach our issue with the most that we can using logic that people pose. After reading through chapter 2 this week I have really been understanding more of what Gardner is saying, what I personally found useful and will be looking into it more is the cognitive approach. Understanding the concepts, theories, stories and skills and the formats in which our mind/brain does that thinking. The cognitive approaches advantage is "in-house" with psychology (pg 42). I think using his methods will help to create our own approach to better our community in any ways possible.

---Abdelrahman Odeh---

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