Food Justice – Everyone Deserves a Healthy Meal

You get out what you put in. We’ve all heard this before and it holds many meanings. For instance, to some it can mean that your performance is based on how you train, and for others it can mean you will do well in school if you study and try your hardest. But in this instance, I am saying that you will feel better, physically and mentally, and live a healthier and longer life if you put good food into your body. There are number of health risks involved with not eating well such as obesity, lack of strength and energy, shorter life expectancies, and more. If we want to live a long and healthy life we have to put good, clean and healthy foods into our body, and unfortunately there are some people who just do not have the means or the availability of healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables – particularly those in low-income situations. I believe that there needs to be even more of an effort to make eating healthy food a possibility in these specific neighborhoods.

There are multiple reasons why some people cannot get healthy meals, fruits and vegetables, whether it be lack of availability in certain areas or not being able to afford it, and here is why: According to a study, conducted by Robert Gottlieb and Anupama Joshi, stated that the food industry actually targets lower-income areas and areas with a younger demographic to build fast food restaurants, essentially setting those people up for failure. They say that, “Urban populations are particularly vulnerable as the grocery gap widens and consumers are forced to travel great distances to access fresh fruits and vegetables” (Gottlieb and Joshi 2011, p. 547). If these companies are specifically targeting these areas, knowing that the people within that area cannot afford or access fresh produce, they are just setting them up for failure. It seems that grocery stores should be doing everything they can to be the first, or only, store in that area. And even if the people within that area do not make a lot of money they should adjust their prices, encouraging people to shop there. There are economic benefits for both the stores and their respective area, as well as health benefits for the consumer.

After establishing that fast food restaurants are more prone to low-income areas and areas that lack grocery stores, there needs to be a solution. How about paying people more? In a 2010 article, titled “Eating Poorly”, by Scott LaFee, he states a correlation between people making minimum wage and obesity. In the article he says that Public-health scientists say there are multiple reasons why lower wages are associated with becoming obese and unhealthy. The reasons are poorer people tend to live in areas and neighborhoods with less park and recreational access, plus the fact that healthier and lower calorie foods are typically more expensive than fast food and less-healthy options. Paul Leigh, senior author of the study and professor at the University of California, Davis, said “The outcome leads us to believe that raising minimum wages could be a part of the solution to the obesity epidemic”, (Scott 2010). At the time that this article was published minimum wage was $7.25 per hour. In 2015 that remains the same for many states, while some have decided to raise it. Maybe more should take that into consideration.

Urban areas seem to be the most common areas with people not eating healthy foods, particularly fruits and vegetables. Grocery stores are just not being built-in these regions and it is doing an extreme disservice to the people living there. In an article written by Joshua J. McElwee and Joe Winter, titled “Getting healthy food to low-income people”, they spoke about the lack of healthy options in urban communities, specifically in New York City. It was stated that people in certain communities depend on corner stores that carry as much produce as you would expect to find at a gas station. Also, when referring to communities in New York City, “even some where there are up to a million people — you could have an entire neighborhood where there is no grocery story”, (McElwee and Winter 2011, p. 3a). Again, setting those up for failure. If the healthy options are not available for people in these areas how are they supposed to eat well? These urban communities are not going anywhere anytime soon. There needs to be emphasis put on grocery stores to open in these areas rather than fast food joints. Maybe there needs to be more education about healthy eating in the schools, or maybe the communities need to raise their voice and ask for it. Either way, something needs to be done.

While there are many reasons for low-income areas and areas populated with youth not having healthy eating options available, one thing is clear – that has to change. The fast food industry has too much power and has become too accessible to those who cannot afford fresh produce. There are many solutions that can be put into place in order to change that trend, whether it be paying people more, making fast food more expensive, promoting a healthier lifestyle and offering more education, or lowering the cost of fresh produce. In order to move forward we need to remember, you get out what you put in.

Works Cited

Bernau, C. (2011). Robert gottlieb and anupama joshi: Food justice. Human Ecology, 39(4), 547-549. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10745-011-9402-2

LaFee, S. (2010, May 26). Eating poorly. Creators Syndicate Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/346066403?accountid=14270

McElwee, J. J., & Winter, J. (2011, November 25). Getting healthy food to low-income people. National Catholic Reporter, 48(3), 3a+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.libproxy.temple.edu/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA274229386&v=2.1&u=temple_main&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=77873bb72dcc0f1f06fc1ec5f2b5b564

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