This week’s launch and query writers are clear supporters of building a healthier food culture. After analyzing the articles the writers challenged the proposed ideas for what’s needed to increase, maintain, promote and create a healthier society. The writers point out that nutrition education is important because too many of us remain unprepared to make the healthiest choices, especially for those living in poverty. But education is not the only issue affecting how we eat. They realize that eating or obtaining healthy foods can be overwhelming and unrealistic for both low-income and time-stressed families and a result most Americans seek out fast and processed foods, not for the convenience and the taste, but for the price. There is also the realization that plopping down a grocery store does not mean that the rural and urban poor will completely reject processed or fast food and began to focus more on buying fresh meats, vegetables and fruits. That would be more expensive. However, most agreed that the best method for increasing heath and awareness would be through community involvement and the incorporation of local organizations and volunteerism, such as community gardens.
After reading this week’s articles along with the launch posts and query responses, I can say that this issue is far more complicated than I thought it was. As the launch and query posters have made clear, there is no easy solution to the food insecurity problem in America. Several launch posters including Hashubah, F0rnarnia, and Joycemichelle all argued that simply increasing access to healthy foods will not solve the problem. As Hashubah pointed out, “…price is more of a problem than access.” While many posters saw Will Allen’s ideas as part of the solution, there is much more to it than just that. Hellosunshine, Solebearing, and Joycemichelle all added that education is an important part of the solution. Hellowsunshine argued that educating Americans about healthy foods should fall under the responsibility of the government. It seems to be that this class is in agreement with one thing – access is not the only problem. Even if the poor had equal access to food, a cheeseburger off the dollar menu at McDonald’s is still going to cost less than a bag of tomatoes. Even if the tomatoes cost about the same, someone would have to know how to cook with tomatoes in order to make a meal with them. So, while urban farms and people like Will Allen are part of the solution, much more needs to be done to read a food secure America.
There was a lot of great points about this issue made in both the launch and the query posts this week; people seem to have differing yet passionate opinions on the topic of food deserts. One side of the argument agreed with Will Allen. They see government intervention as an effective way of changing how agriculture and food is processed and distributed. Others see, like sproles43 and toastedravioli, see the most effective difference happening on more of a grassroots level. Some other bloggers supported the idea of churches having gardens where people could come and have access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Some went as far as saying that the poor themselves should learn how to grow their own food. However, there were some perhaps more realistic views on the topic such as bellajoelleseiz who wrote that “most people don’t have the time, or don’t want to spend the time on a garden.”
Another major facet of these posts was the focus and importance of education. Hellosunshine and focushoneynut both think that education of what is healthy and what is not. However, as joycemichelle pointed out, eating habits are hard to change. In response to this, daretobepresent suggests conditioning people at an earlier age to enjoy healthier options.
There were some bloggers, f0rnarnia and hasubah, who noted that what it comes down to for many is economics. When one is in a desperate situation with 5 mouths to feed, he is unlikely to buy a fresh box of spinach when he can buy a package of hotdogs (this is just one example that I can up with). People living in poverty have to make hard decisions every single day. What they eat is no exception.
The posts this week show each person’s point-of-view about food deserts and how to fix them. Everyone seems to agree that there is an issue with the lower class and unhealthy eating regardless of whether they would classify areas using the term “food desert” or not. In each post and comment users are voicing their ideas about where the issue of unhealthy foods and the lower class ultimately lies. Posts are especially focused on how users believe this issue can be fixed. By far, the most common answer involves education and price. Everyone seems to be in agreement that part of the reason why the lower class does not buy healthy foods is because it is more expensive and that lowering prices would help a great deal. However, most do not think that this is enough. On top of lowering prices, awareness (through education) is being advocated for. Overall, it seems as if most posts have got almost identical theses: if the lower class is educated about healthy eating, and prices are made affordable for them, then the strong link between lower income and poor dietary health will diminish greatly.
This week’s posts give the general consensus that being healthy isn’t always the easy or affordable thing to do. All of the bloggers seem to be searching for a solution but cannot agree on one. Will Allen’s presented solution comes across as slightly flawed in this week’s posts. Mr. Allen wants to teach people to grow one’s own produce, yet the bloggers seem to be of the opinion that this is not likely to happen. Dreamsicle123 states correctly, ” Growing one’s own fruits and vegetables is a time consuming and laborious process.” I would go on to say that my classmates feel that Mr. Allen’s concept is a dream world that is not necessarily realistic. Daretobepresent talked about how the real problem is with our grocery stores. The vibe I get this week is that people feel that this is a financial situation. It is not financially feasible to be healthy either for the consumer or for the producer or seller. This week’s post left people continuing to search for the right answer yet more aware while searching in a fight to give everyone the healthiest food possible.
I think that the concept that Will Allen has come up with is a really good one. Although the concept of facilitating the agricultural growth of a community through providing resources and education to it’s citizens is not an unusual concept in poverty-stricken foreign countries, it really hasn’t been used much here in America. However, Will states that although many poor American’s are not starving to death, they are not able to afford the nutritious food that will keep them healthy: “No, we are not suddenly starving to death; we are slowly but surely malnourishing ourselves to death”. Healthy foods in America, such as fruits and vegetables, are much more costly than highly processed food. Allen’s concept is to educate and provide poverty-stricken Americans with the tools they need to grow their own healthy foods. It is true that not all poor Americans will get on board with this idea. Growing one’s own fruits and vegetables is a time consuming and laborious process. However, Will is giving those who do want to live healthier lifestyles the chance to do so. I think that Will’s concept is great because it allows many people living in poverty to take control of their own health, instead of having no other choice but to consume unhealthy foods.
While Allan made a good point I was mostly interested in the point Sarah Kliff’s article made. Sure you put a grocery store inside of a low-income neighborhood but does it really change the eating habits of the neighborhood? Personally I wouldn’t go so far as to say that food deserts do not exist at all but I do think that just because there is a grocery store in a low-income neighborhood does not mean everyone will suddenly change their eating habits or be able to offer the healthy options they might offer. Notice the word “might” because while the store will sell healthier options (that unfortunately are usually higher in price) if there isn’t enough demand or stock stays on the shelf for long periods of time then a store will end up eliminating options that have no demand behind them in order to cut costs and save money. This means that even if they start out with a lot of healthier options eventually the store will just sell what they know they can make a profit on. So how do we change what people prefer? Quite honestly we can’t and there’s no way to force someone to eat healthier, in the end it is their body and their life. Which means I think to solve the problem of malnourishment Allan mentions it’s going to take a lot more than putting a few grocery stores in some low-income areas. It’s going to take a mixture of education, lowering prices, and time.