Food and Social Class/Politics: Jose Corella, Cooper Lenhard, Michael Mapua
Food deserts can be defined as any urban areas or parts of the country where it is difficult to find or afford any good-quality fresh food, such as fruits, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods.
Where are Food Deserts located?
Food deserts are typically areas that are lacking in grocery stores, farmers; markets and other healthy food providers. These are most commonly located in areas or communities of color and low income, where many people do not have a car and must rely on public transportation. According to the Food Empowerment Project, “ Studies have found that wealthy districts have three times as many supermarkets as poor ones do, that white neighborhoods contain an average of four times as many supermarkets as predominantly black ones do, and that grocery stores in African-American communities are usually smaller with less selection.”. The residents of food deserts usually have very limited options for what to eat and tend to be very heavily populated with fast-food chains that may be selling cheap meat and produce that is typically processed and high in sugar, fat, and salt.
Do Food Deserts Matter?
Today, our society has an abundance of choices. These choices range from McDonald’s chains throughout the country to Whole Foods supermarkets propagating the nation. The idea of a food desert comes from the idea that you can’t locate affordable, fresh food. It doesn’t mean that there is not a place to get food, it just means that the availability of fresh produce is much more scarce. Food Deserts are mainly found in disadvantaged communities. Now, there might be a simple solution for this, just bring supermarkets or farmers markets with better food closer to these neighborhoods. It does not work like that. Food deserts have a deeply rooted problem and it does not have to do with the geographic location of fresher food. Income, income is the main problem that creates food deserts because people with lower incomes just can’t afford fresh food. If there were to be a Whole Foods or a grocer that offers fresh, healthy food they would run out business because people can’t afford it. A recent study by economists from New York University, Stanford University, and the University of Chicago has revealed that food deserts are not the sole issue. Income disparity between lower class and upper-class people looks to be the biggest influencer in food deserts.
Combating Food Deserts
In San Francisco, there is a shop named Craftsman and Wolves which has implemented a pay-it-forward system for customers who cannot afford pizza in the Bayview food desert neighborhood. Their pay-it-forward system was for people who wanted to pre-purchase someone else’s pizza order. The system worked with once a person has pre-paid the pizza, they would leave a Post-It note on the window for anyone to redeem. This system allowed for people who could not afford pizza in a food desert area to have a pre-paid slice of their own purchased by someone who wanted to. Logan, the owner of Craftsman and Wolves, adds that “It should not be awkward accepting the handouts. You see it, grab it and redeem it. It’s no big deal” (Compton, 2016 para. 17).
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Gallagher, Mari. (2015). USDA Defines Food Deserts. Nutrition Digest. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/usda-defines-food-deserts
N.A. (2018). Food Deserts. Food Empowerment Project. Retrieved February 28, 2018, from http://www.foodispower.org/food-deserts/