16 October, 2011

Blog Action Day 2011: Food

This year for Blog Action Day, the topic is food.

I am proud to be taking part in Blog Action Day OCT 16 2011 www.blogactionday.org

For my post, I decided to take on the subject of food deserts.

A food desert is, according to Wikipedia:

Any area in the industrialized world where healthy, affordable food is difficult to obtain. It is prevalent in rural as well as urban areas and is most prevalent in low-socioeconomic minority communities, and is associated with a variety of diet-related health problems.

This issue strikes close to home because the town we live in is rural, and the closest city has entire neighborhoods where there are no grocery stores at all; it's actually listed on the Food Desert Locator by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The local store is around 1.5 miles away and within walkable distance. While it does sell fruits, vegetables, and other relatively-healthy foods (bread, cheese, some meat) it is problematic because a.) they hike their prices in the summer when there are more people coming through the area, on top of their high-ish prices all year-round b.) they don't have a very good record when it comes to their business practices (charging the wrong price, not listing their prices correctly, promoting people but not giving them a raise, strange employees, etc.) and c.) their stuff is just lower quality than other marketplaces.

But there's no competition, since the second-closest place is 15 miles down the highway or by backroads, which run along the highway. The farmers' markets only come by in the summer, and their prices are much higher.

And if you don't have a running car (which we didn't, for a while) then you're stuck with the more expensive store, taking a slow and inefficient bus down to the city to where there are places to shop, or the gas station, which is super expensive. They sell a quart of milk for almost four dollars.

Of course, that's better than having only a convenience store or a gas station, which is the situation many people find themselves in. Some rural areas don't have sources of healthy food at all, unless you want to grow it yourself, which takes land, time, energy, and money.

Hopefully, this problem will be addressed more. Some things have already been done: the Obama administration has established the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, which works with First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign against childhood obesity, and some states in the U.S. have set up their own programs.

It would be wonderful if those programs worked and food deserts became much less of an issue, and not just in this country, either. But there's still an awful lot distance to cover.


In case you'd like to watch/read a report on food deserts by the PBS NewsHour, go HERE.


About Blog Action Day:

Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all.

For 2011, our Blog Action Day coincides with World Food Day, so our topic of discussion for this year will be food. Take the first step now and sign-up your blog to Blog Action Day and then look at our suggested topics for some food flavoured inspiration to discuss.


Do you live (or have you lived) in a food desert? What do you think should be done to help relieve the effects of them?

-----The Golden Eagle


Carrie Butler said...

Thank you for bringing this topic to light, Eagle. It seems there are two food deserts in my county. I hadn't heard that terminology before. Very interesting.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Can you imagine if your main grocery store was a convenience store? Now that's some unhealthy eating.

Carole Anne Carr said...

Yes, hunger in a world where there is enough for all is a shocking thing. Many families in my own country do not have enough to eat.

Old Kitty said...

Thank you for highlighting this problem over in the US. Let's hope these initiatives by President Obama will start to tackle this situation. A rich industrialised country has no excuse for not nurturing an infrastructure able to get good healthy food at competitive prices to its citizens whether they are living in the city or in rural areas. Take care

The Dandy Lioness said...

I'm very lucky to live in a big city with lots of grocery stores-- I probably have five or six within walking distance from my house. I've never moved/lived anywhere else, so I have never actually seen this problem first-hand, but I imagine it must be awful.

Brian Miller said...

jumping over from BAD11...

i can honestly say i never really thought about this living in an area where supermarkets surround us but def see where thisis an issue...will follow your links to learn up a bit more...

Sarah Pearson said...

Wow. I won't take my supermarkets for granted again. This has really shocked me.

shelly said...

Hey, just to let you know peanut butter is going up by 40% b/c of a bad crop. So stock up. I know really ahd nothing to do with your post but just letting you know.

Laura said...

This is such a thought provoking post. I live in the UK, and although I lived in the back of beyond in west Wales for a time, because it was a farming and producing community, there was always fresh food available, at an affordable price (often for a barter system between neighbours.) Thanks for the brainfodder.

Beth said...

It's shocking that food deserts should exist in such a rich country, and continent. Thanks for bringing more attention to this important issue.

Liz said...

I'd never heard of this. Very interesting.

Debra Ann Elliott said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I had never heard of Blog Action Day until I saw your post. You inspired me to sign up and blog about the subject. Thank you again for sharing.

Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Access to food is something many Americans take for granted. But along with rural food deserts, there are a surprising number of urban food deserts--neighborhoods where the economic situation is so bad and crime is so high that no one wants to keep a grocery store going. I used to live in a major city that has some neighborhoods where corner stores, with their high prices and very limited choices (few fruits and vegetables; no meat; mostly canned goods) are often the most viable option for food shopping.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Goodness, I had no idea you were so rural as not to have markets. That is certainly an issue unless there are small farms in the area. I lived in a remote area once, but I could drive down from the mountain to stores, and there was a local guy who sold goat milk.

Susan Kane said...

Good blog! I am afraid there are too many 'food desserts' all over the world.
With the cost of fuel climbing, and the natural disasters that have devastated many farm areas, the cost of food production is zooming. It is scary.

C D Meetens said...

I feel pretty lucky, as I live in a place where food prices are competitive, and it's easy to get to major supermarkets (even without a car).

I never would have thought anywhere in the US would want for food, so thanks for highlighting this issue.

Jason said...

This blog post is great. I've been reading your blog posts regularly and I think they're great! Keep up the excellent work! Followed!

Carolyn Abiad said...

I've never heard of this. Thanks for bringing it up.

Margo Benson said...

Congratulations on a great post and for highlighting this problem - I also hadn't heard of it.

We live in a rural area too, but have a regular market all year and loads of swapping fruit and veggies between neighbours. I'll certainly not take the ease of what's available to us for granted again.

....Petty Witter said...

Not an event I had heard of until now - how I wish I'd known of it earlier as i would love to have joined in. Anyway, thanks for mentioning it, I enjoyed your post.

Mark Noce said...

Wow, eye-opening post. Thank you.

Michael Offutt said...

I think that food is going to become more and more a problem with a growing population, sinking wages, and the government using corn to make ethanol. Converting our food to fuel is just plain stupid.

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Golden, interesting post.

I saw a special a year ago where a couple ladies bought one of those ice cream trucks and refurbished it to carry fresh produce and fruit. They drive through neighborhoods were poor people have a difficult time having access to these items and they are very successful. They did this to provide for folks so I don't think their main focus is money. It's a great idea really, but I'd like to see the truck run on an alternate fuel.
N. R. Williams, Fantasy Author

J. A. Bennett said...

I hadn't really thought of this before $4 for milk??? I wish I knew what I could to do to help becasue that is just crazy.

Laila Knight said...

You know, it always amazes me how everyone wants us to be healthy yet prices skyrocket when it comes to healthy fool. And sugary stuff is highly assessable. :)

Talli Roland said...

Thank you for using your blog to take action against this action. It's so sad that a rich western country has issues providing for its citizens. It's the same here in the UK.

Janet Johnson said...

I hadn't heard of this event. I have always lived close to a city, so I haven't had this problem, but it's shocking to know that so many people have these struggles.

Great and informative post.

The Golden Eagle said...

Carrie: You're welcome.

I hadn't, either, until I watched the report by the PBS NewsHour I linked to.

Alex: The grocery store around here isn't too great, but it's so much better than a convenience store.

Carole: It is--and there are resources to help the problem, too. They're just not being used.

Old Kitty: You're very welcome.


The Dandy Lioness: Those are a lot of grocery stores. :)

We used to live a place where there were many places to shop; though we had a well-running car at that point, too, which helped.

Brian: I hope you find the links helpful!

Thank you for coming by.

Sarah: It surprised me, too, when I first heard about "food deserts"; not so much they existed, but that they were such a widespread problem.

Shelly: I suppose it's a good thing we don't eat peanut butter, then. :P

Laura: There really aren't many communities like that around here. There are farms, certainly, but because of the way a highway cuts right next to the town there really isn't that kind of neighbor-to-neighbor interaction.

You're very welcome.

Beth: Exactly. There are ways of helping to fix the problem, but their just not being done as much as they need to be.

Liz: A bit of a surprise, isn't it?

Debra: You're welcome! :) I'm glad my post inspired you to join BAD2011 as well.

Jennifer: There are places like that around here, too. The nearest city has some ugly neighborhoods where there's hardly any place to buy food--much less healthy food.

Tricia: No local guys who sell goat milk around here, unfortunately. :P

Susan: Thank you!

It definitely is.

The Golden Eagle said...

C D: We used to live in a place where you could walk (if you wanted to cross some very busy streets) to a grocery store; but then we moved.

You're welcome!

Jason: Hi there!

Carolyn: You're welcome.

Margo: Thank you!

The one market around here is not really good; and since we don't actually live among farms (there's a highway less than a mile away) very few people trade in the neighborhood.

Tracy: It's too bad you couldn't join. There's always next year, though; Blog Action Day is a yearly event.

I'm glad you enjoyed my post!

Mark: You're welcome!

Michael: I agree, there are cons to using food for fuel--though I did read that they're starting to make some fuel from corn waste products instead (cobs, leaves, etc).

Nancy: Thanks!

That does sound like a good idea; though you're right, it would be even better if the truck was fueled by something like hydrogen/electricity.

J. A.: Unfortunately, yes, $4.

Laila: Well, not all prices are sky-high if you hunt down the cheaper things: whole wheat bread, some fruit, things like that are less expensive in the long run.

The Golden Eagle said...

Talli: It is, absolutely. There are a huge amount of resources--that could be used.

Janet: Thank you!

Danette said...

Meant to stop my earlier in the week because Michael said you had posted on this. I also participated and wrote on Food Deserts as well. It's quite shocking that in a country such as ours, with plenty of food that it's as hard as it is to get food to so many people. But there are reasons why things are the way they are and no one seems terribly interested in really changing them. Not even the Obama administration. Glad you posted on this too!

The Golden Eagle said...

Danette: Definitely shocking.

I just visited your post--I hadn't expected someone else to post on food deserts as well, but it's great to know you did! :)