For decades, low-income communities of color have suffered as grocery stores and fresh, affordable food disappeared from their neighborhoods. Advocates have long drawn attention to this critical issue and crafted policy solutions, but access to healthy food is just now entering the national policy debate. While the problem is obvious to impacted communities, good policy must also be based on solid data about the issue and its consequences. Since it often takes years for the “research” to catch up with pressing needs, I decided to crowd source people of all ages to see how they really felt in present time.
I surveyed mostly college students and other millennials on twitter covering which are they quicker to go to. Out of 108 votes, 79% chose Junk foods over 21% picking healthy foods.
In recent decades, people between the ages of 18 and 29 have experienced greater frequencies of obesity than any other age group in America. Interestingly, this age group is made up of mostly college students, leading to the conclusion that these young Americans suffer greatly from poor nutrition. College students know very well the potential of falling victim to the common trend of significant weight gain when they leave for school. In fact, around one in four students in college suffer from obesity. In particular, campus dining services do little to accommodate the nutritional health of their students and therefore present a major cause of this problem.
After surveying 93 people if there’s a lack of healthy nutrition on college campuses, 91% said yes to 9% saying no.
If you eat most of your meals in a college cafeteria or have a meal plan, maybe you know the feeling: You walk in to your campus dining hall with every intention to eat a healthy meal, but just one look at the salad bar’s limp greens and mealy tomatoes has you opting for a slice of pizza instead. Sometimes the limited selection of wholesome dining hall fare makes it easy for college students to put healthy eating aspirations on the back burner.
Colleges are encouraging unhealthy eating habits by offering limited healthy food options, falsely advertising healthy foods, and requiring students to purchase their meal plans. Poor variety of fruits and vegetables and the high cost of fresh food in comparison to processed snacks and limited access to nutritional information in cafeterias can all stand in the way of eating well at school.
Some also feel as if the cooking is off, but that’s another story….
I surveyed 59 people asking the question above, and out of 59, 78% said they’re all for growing their own personal or community garden. While 22% percent said no, they didn’t want to get dirty.
A survey of produce availability in New Orleans’ small neighborhood stores found that for each additional meter of shelf space devoted to fresh vegetables, residents eat an additional 0.35 servings per day.
Xavier University has an active campus garden called “AGROWTOPIA”.
After surveying 62 people on the question adjacent, 10% voted that they thought the African American community was well informed. 40% voted that they feel as some are but choose not to be. 50% voted no that they don’t think the African American community is informed at all.
Since 50% of people voted to believe African Americans aren’t well informed about growing their own food and eating healthy, to decrease the percentage here are some reasons why it’s good to grow your own food, because eating healthy is already a no brainier.
Save money on groceries is the first reason. Your grocery bill will shrink from $100 every week to $0 as you begin to stock your pantry with fresh produce from your backyard. A packet of seeds can cost less than a dollar, and they’re easy to restore from season after season so they don’t have to be bought again.
Improve your family’s health is the second reason. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the most important things you and your family can do to stay healthy. When they’re growing in your backyard, you won’t be able to resist them, and their vitamin content will be at their highest levels as you bite into them straight from the garden. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that if you are served homegrown produce you’re more than twice more likely to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day than people who rarely or never ate homegrown produce.
The third reason is stop worrying about food safety. With recalls on peanut butter, spinach, tomatoes and, more, many people are concerned about food safety in our global food marketplace. When you responsibly grow your own food, you don’t have to worry about contamination that may occur at the farm, manufacturing plant, or transportation process. This means that when the whole world is avoiding tomatoes, for example, you don’t have to go without; you can trust that your food is safe and healthy to eat.
The fourth reason is reduce food waste. Americans throw away about $600 worth of food each year! It’s a lot easier to toss a moldy orange that you paid $0.50 for than a perfect red pepper that you patiently watched ripen over the course of several weeks. When it’s “yours,” you will be less likely to take it for granted and more likely to eat it before it goes to waste.
I surveyed 40 people asking the question adjacent, and out of the 40 people 60% voted money is what holds them back the most. Healthy food has no taste and little to no access came in with a tie at 18%. 4% of people voted that they simply don’t want it at all.
Policy Link and The Food Trust carefully conducted a study reviewing more than 132 cases. Finding that a large and consistent body of evidence supports what residents have long observed: many low income communities, communities of color, and sparsely populated rural areas do not have sufficient opportunities to buy healthy, affordable food. The consequences are also clear: decreased access to healthy food means people in low-income communities suffer more from diet related diseases like obesity and diabetes than those in higher income neighborhoods with easy access to healthy food, particularly fresh fruits and vegetables.
In Detroit and New Haven, produce quality is lower in low-income communities of color compared to more affluent or racially mixed neighborhoods. In Albany, New York, 80 percent of nonwhite residents cannot find low-fat milk or high-fiber bread in their neighborhoods. And in Baltimore, 46 percent of lower-income neighborhoods have limited access to healthy food compared to 13 percent of higher-income neighborhoods.
The way to fight back on this issue is to grow our own personal or community gardens. As the minority we can’t just sit and be limited then looked upon as the problem, we make a solution and become better as one. Its understandable community gardening isn’t for everyone and everyone isn’t into it, but if you want to live a healthier life, save money and, become less institutionalized then growing a garden of some kind is the way to GROW.