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