What is causing healthy food access problems? (via)
Poverty, or the lack of resources with which to acquire food, is the primary source of food insecurity in the United States. However, extensive documentation shows that the lack of access to food in low-income urban neighborhoods — the simple inability to buy it there — is an important additional factor. Compared to people living in higher-income areas, residents of low-income urban neighborhoods have very limited access to high quality food, enjoy fewer options in the variety of goods that are available to them, and pay higher prices for their groceries when they are available.
There have been efforts made to increase accessibility of healthy foods to low-income families including farms that accept food stamps. This is a great start but the vouchers go a lot further at the grocery store than at the local farmer's market. In May, Thomas wrote,"All modern famines are failures of entitlement, not of food production. There’s enough food, but some people due to poverty or other barriers cannot get it." This certainly makes food a feminist issue.
It also brings up healthy* "choices." I write "choices" in quotes because when the decision is between spending a few dollars more on average per meal or filling up self and kids on a tight budget, it is no longer a true choice. When paying bills or bus fare for work is at stake, making a "choice" to eat less than healthy meals is not just easy, but necessary. Time also plays a huge role. Even if someone can find discount vegetables to purchase, and a pound salmon that was on sale that week (maybe slice it up into pasta to make it go further to feed more people?), preparing this meal takes time that not every family has. Especially single parent families. Again, when the decision is between preparing this healthy meal and being late for your second job or grabbing McD's for the same price, it's no longer a real "choice." However, the price we should consider is not just a monetary one. We pay the price in terms of health, and what years of fast and over-processed foods mean for your body. These "choices" are difficult ones and although it's often easy for us to discuss the negative effects of certain choices people make from the comfort of our overprivileged cubicles, there is a lot more at stake for those we are scrutinizing.
Obviously class and privilege play a huge role. Not just in the "choices" we are able to make about our diets but also in access to fresh and reasonably priced foods. This also has a lot to do with location. For example, i was making Sirniki for a special Sunday morning breakfast last weekend and noticed we were out of eggs. I said to D, "can we go to the farm real quick for some eggs?" Then i thought about what i just said. How many people can just "go to the farm for some eggs." We are lucky enough to live 3 miles away from a farm. One with reasonably priced produce. Mostly because they save on transportation costs (when businesses don't need to pay for goods to come in from other states they save on transport and the goods are cheaper for consumers. This also saves on fuel and energy and lowers the overall carbon footprint... but that's a different post i suppose...) Anyway, i make the choice to pay $3.00 for local eggs versus $2.00 for a carton at the grocery store or $1.50 at WalMart (again, an entirely separate post...). I realize the ability to make this choice is due to privilege and not everyone is able to even consider spending $1.50 more on eggs. It's just not an option for some.
I have a difficult time rationalizing to someone the non-monetary cost of the $1.50 eggs purchased at WalMart. If i did try i would discuss the caged chickens with cut-off beaks who are force-fed medicated pellets of growth hormone, the fuel guzzling Semis used to transport the eggs from a CAFO (factory farms) in Idaho to your local store, the underpaid farmers who gave up family farms because they had no other choice, the uninsured and overworked employees that are not allowed to unionize, the environmental effects, the socioeconomic effects, etc... It is difficult to justify eating cage free eggs when they cost at least $1.50 more to someone struggling to feed his/her family, regardless the other costs involved in the decision. Although I am able to consider the other costs, to try to rationalize them to someone in a different position than me forces me to consider my own classism and privilege.
How can someone eat "healthy" on a time and money budget? Wisebread has an interesting article with resources that include: Eating Healthy - It Will Cost You, Why is it so Expensive to be Healthy? (with a wag of the finger at the objectifying photo of a cropped, overweight, body - poor form, Wisebread, poor poor form...) and Eating Locally on a Budget (for example, i bought lettuce, 4 ears of corn, a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, 4 cucumbers, and an eggplant last week at the farmer's market for $9 total).
There is a lot of value in eating sustainable foods. Value that is often easier to consider from a privileged perspective. There needs to be more done to make these choices accessible to low income families and to provide information, resources, and support as to what these choices really mean in terms of our country's cultural, economic, agricultural, and ethical sustainability.
Some other neat stuff i found while writing this:
Food, Farming ... Feminism?
Obesity Inversely Linked to Low Income (just don't read the comments...)
Making Women Farmers “Visible” As They Feed Nations
Eat Well Guide
and at the very least, watch The Meatrix
*Weight and health are not necessarily correlated. With that said, any comments that show weightist attitudes will be moderated - just a heads up so don't even try it...