Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Phrase of the week: 'food desert'

Posted By on Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 11:27 AM

If you tuned into last night's Mecklenburg County Commission meeting, whether in person, on TV or on Twitter, you've already heard about our area's "food desert" problem — not to be confused with "food desserts," which is a whole other problem.

But let me start by asking you this: If you didn't have a car or adequate public transportation to get to the store, what stores near your home offer food? And, what kind of food do they offer?

When I asked myself the same question, I quickly realized that if my husband and I were to live off of the food within walking distance from our home, we would subsist on little more than fried seafood, beer and HoHos. Hardly a healthy diet. But, on the upside, we could play the lottery and hope to win enough money for a car that could take us to an actual grocery store. Woo hoo!

We're not that unfortunate, though; however, a lot of people in Charlotte are. According to the Mecklenburg County Health Department's report, 73,000 people in Mecklenburg County— in 60 neighborhoods — live in "food deserts." That means there isn't a full-service grocery store within close proximity to their homes. Which means they're likely eating crap and that they're going to get sick, and maybe even die, because of it.

Obviously this is a problem that warrants action, but how to act? The county's not in the grocery business.

Read more about Mecklenburg County's food deserts:

Mecklenburg Officials Eye “Food Deserts” -- The Charlotte Business Journal

Starved for nutrition in ‘food desert’: Access to healthy food choices limited in poor communities -- The Charlotte Post

Study: Lack of fresh food in neighborhoods hurts health -- The Charlotte Observer

Further reading:

Obesity Rates Keep Rising, Troubling Health Officials -- The New York Times

Let's be real: The lack of stores aren't the only problem encouraging obesity in today's society. The reality is mass-produced, crap food is cheaper ... kinda. It's cheaper on the front end, but much more costly overall:

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