“Food, food everywhere and not a bite to eat”

by Dea Biancarelli on April 30, 2014

“Food, food everywhere and not a bite to eat”

It’s common knowledge: Americans eat too much. 69.2% of Americans are overweight including obese. With the large number of large people, there has been increased attention on the obesity epidemic in the United States. In such a developed country, there is a surplus of food to eat and this leads to overeating. However, 23.5 million Americans do not have access to a grocery store that is within one mile of their home and only have convenience stores stocked with junk foods. They often do not have access to public transport or a car. More than half of these Americans typically live in a low-income neighborhood and use programs like SNAP to provide food for their families. However, when access to healthy, fresh foods is scarce and prices are high, families on SNAP often sacrifice nutrition for larger quantities of food. This leads to obesity and health problems, which are costly to the American healthcare system.
Michelle Obama and legislatures have been making changes to eliminate these so called ‘food deserts’. Supermarkets are given tax incentives to build in these areas to provide access to fresh foods. SNAP also has begun to provide health guideline recommendations for recipients. They also have begun to make SNAP retailers stock more nutritious foods. Other solutions have been proposed to provide communities with fresh foods, such as food trucks that sell fresh fruits and vegetables. Other communities have passed laws that allow on site sales of foods from homes. Community gardens grow their own produce and sell it to the community at an affordable price.
However, experts are not convinced that eliminating food deserts will be the solution to America’s obesity problem. Often, it is not the lack of choice people have but the surplus of food options that cause people to eat unhealthy foods. While access to these markets is a crucial first step, their existence will not cause people to buy healthier foods. Teaching the public about how to make better food choices and become better food shopper could be more advantageous in the long run.

Sources:
http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/takes-grocery-store-eliminate-food-desert/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-blumenthal/food-deserts_b_3822428.html
http://herkansascity.com/feature-story/grow-it-and-we-will-eat-creative-food-solutions-area-food-deserts
http://apps.ams.usda.gov/fooddeserts/foodDeserts.aspx

Written by: Dea Biancarelli


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