February 28th, 2018
Food and Social Class
This has become a big problem because while food deserts are often short on whole food providers, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, instead, they are heavy on local quickie marts that provide a wealth of processed, sugar, and fat laden foods that are known contributors to our nation’s obesity epidemic. The food desert problem has in fact become such an issue that the USDA has outlined a map of our nation’s food deserts, which I saw on Mother Nature Network.
Too many Americans are overweight and eat unhealthy food, a problem that falls disproportionately on poor and low-income people. Many have blamed the existence of “food deserts”—disadvantaged neighborhoods that are underserved by quality grocery stores, and where people’s nutritional options are limited to cheaper, high-calorie, and less-nutritious food.
“The other defining characteristic of food deserts is socio-economic: that is, they are most commonly found in communities of color and low-income areas (where many people don’t have cars). 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.  People’s choices about what to eat are severely limited by the options available to them and what they can afford—and many food deserts contain an overabundance of fast food chains selling cheap “meat” and dairy-based foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt. Processed foods (such as snack cakes, chips and soda) typically sold by corner delis, convenience stores and liquor stores are usually just as unhealthy.”
In our research we found that a lot of food deserts occur in the middle of the U.S. toward the easter side, where it is more country and it’s more rural than being in the city. And even if you are in a city, you can still be in a food desert (according to theAtlantic.com). Food deserts have to do with social class because if you are of low income then you have a higher chance of being in an area that lacks nutritious foods and produce. It depends on where you are and what you can afford. According to foodispower.org, we found that food desserts are socio-economic meaning that they are commonly found in communities of color and low-income areas. In the website foodispower.com it states, “Healthier foods tend to be more expensive than unhealthful foods, particularly in food deserts.” which means it is less likely that lower class people eat healthily. I personally work at an organic restaurant where they advertise their food as healthy, where they have vegan, gluten free options, and tons of additions. This comes at a hefty price though, salads and vegan burgers are sold for around $13 dollars, and if you want anything on it, you’ll be looking at a $20-30 burger or salad. Only people with enough money eat there, and it shouldn’t be that way because I see people I know struggling to pay for basic necessities when people are overpaying for food.
The study reinforces the notion that food deserts are disproportionately found in disadvantaged neighborhoods. It finds that more than half (55 percent) of all ZIP codes with a median income below $25,000 fit the definition of food deserts—that’s more than double the share of food-desert ZIP codes across the country as a whole (24 percent).
Food Deserts. (2018). Food Deserts Web. Food Empowerment Project. Retrieved from http://www.foodispower.org/food-deserts/
Florida, Richard. (2018). Food Deserts Exist. But Do They Matter? Web. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2018/01/food-deserts/551138/
USDA Defines Food Deserts. (2015). USDA Defines Food Deserts Web. American Nutrition Organization. Retrieved from http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/usda-defines-food-deserts