Californians need Affordable Food, not Expensive Designer Organic Food
Having a well balanced diet is vital to being healthy. In order for children to get a well balanced diet and receive the proper nutrients, they need access to fresh produce. Low-income families need access to affordable produce so that children can eat their fruits and vegetables. Some people, however, do not care about low-income families being able to afford food. Food elites have called on Amazon to overhaul the nation’s food system after its acquisition of Whole Foods.
The rich people in the Bay Area and chefs such as Alice Waters would prefer if people bought “organic” food, even if it costs more than “non-organic” food. The goal shouldn’t be to make sure everyone has the luxury to buy designer produce grown on local organic farms such as Waters’ five-star Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse, tries to do.
The ultimate goal should be to make sure fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available to those who need it most, low-income families. People that live in urban centers and rural outposts don’t have easy access to grocery stores and affordable produce. Because of this, they have fewer options than most when it comes what food they will eat, other than places such as fast food and junk snacks sold at corner stores.
The main issues with “organic” food are that it’s expensive and it’s not much healthier than “non-organic” food. A comprehensive study in 2012 by Stanford University’s Center for Health Policy shows that organic foods are “not nutritionally superior to conventional alternatives,” in addition to costing a third more.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that in California alone, more than one million people live in these food deserts. Not surprisingly, the inhabitants of food deserts are predominantly low-income and ethnic minorities. This demographic, unsurprisingly, suffers the most from poor diets resulting in obesity and the adverse health issues associated with it.
According to the Food Empowerment Project, the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes has risen across demographic lines in recent years; however, the greatest increases have occurred among people of color. The highest rates of escalation have been identified in Native American youth, African-Americans and Latinos of all age groups, with these groups suffering disproportionately higher rates of type 2 diabetes compared to whites.
These are also the groups most likely to live in food deserts, and researchers have established a strong correlation between food insecurity and increased diabetes rates. One study of Chicago neighborhoods found the death rate from diabetes in food deserts to be twice that of areas offering access to grocery stores.
In Los Angeles, “children in the low-income neighborhoods of Boyle Heights, Southeast L.A., South L.A., and near the Port of Los Angeles live with a 30 percent obesity rate,” according to a 2015 article published by the Pacific Standard. “Compare that with the more affluent and majority-white areas of Bel-Air/Beverly Crest and Brentwood/Pacific Palisades, where less than 12 percent of children suffer from obesity. In South Los Angeles and other low-income areas, McDonald’s and Burger King are on every corner, and grocery options are scarce.”
In order to improve the health of people living in food deserts, the food elites and environmental community needs to stop promoting fear and shaming people for not eating organic fruits and vegetables, which are more expensive than conventionally grown produce.