Inside America’s Food Deserts: Wealth is HealthFebruary 22, 2018
[Via Byron Terry; The CTZNS] We have all heard the saying ‘Health is Wealth’. It basically means that the healthier of a life you live the more prosperous and happy your life will be. Yes, I do believe that you must have a balanced life to reach the type of wealth (not material) that is described in the quote bu,t for people that live in low-income areas, it is very hard for them to actually live a healthy life.
According to realestate.usnews.com, when businesses such as Whole Foods come to your area the value of your property will eventually increase. This can also be seen as direct correlation to why rent rates in the areas closer to stores like Whole Foods are higher than areas that do not have these stores. These high rent rates usually cause low-income people to unintentionally move into areas that are called food deserts.
Food deserts impact the health of the people that live in them because they do not have access to affordable fresh produce. People in these areas are then forced to eat fast food or other unhealthy food options. If this sounds like you then here are 2 indicators that you are living in a food desert.
Distance from Fresh Food.
According to the USDA, to be considered as a food desert “at least 500 people and/or at least 33 percent of the census tract’s population must reside more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.” A mile may not seem far but imagine walking to the store and back to get groceries for a family of 3 or traveling on a bus for long amounts of time with those same groceries.
Selection and price
People that live in food deserts are subjected to a limited selection of food and also higher prices than people that do not live in food deserts. Many times the restaurants located inside of food deserts do not offer healthier food options and when people in the community do make it to the grocery stores, the selection isn’t vast and is usually higher than larger market stores outside the community.
To put this issue into perspective I pulled some numbers: 23.5 million people in the U.S. live in food deserts and out of that 23.5 million 25% of Black and Latino families experience food-insecurities compared to 11% white families. A study in Chicago also showed that people that live in food deserts die as a result of diabetes twice as much as people that do not and that is just one health issue caused by food access.
After reading this article I hope you can see why I flipped around the words health and wealth to make the saying more accurate to American society. Unless you can afford to move into more affluent areas or you have reasonable transportation to get to these areas, you are forced to eat whatever is available in the food desert.
These food options can lead to obesity, diabetes, and even death.