The inequality amongst the wealthy and poor of America is still devastating to this day. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for the minds and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.” Here, Dr. King makes a list of basic things every American is entitled to and things they should have. Even in highly developed countries like the United States, people still struggle with putting food on the table every night. The struggle, however, is not always a matter of not having something to put on the table, but is also the struggle to put healthy and nutritious food on the table. Area’s that lack affordable and nutritious foods are known as food deserts.
Access to nutritious food is not something many think about when they are thinking about the struggle for food in America. People go right to the idea that the only problem is people getting food at all, and as long as people have food there is no problem. This flawed mindset keeps many people in the dark about the issue that low-income areas have a difficult time accessing healthy and nutritious foods. The Encyclopedia of Globalization states that the level of food production is high enough to provide every human with an appropriate caloric intake daily, but 13.6% of people on a global scale are undernourished (Clift and Galli 2012). With an increase in genetically modified crops (GMO), fewer farmers are needed, which makes the availability of local farms significantly less frequent.
Laura Hartman, a professor at Augustana College, describes the unequal distribution of food as a travesty in her writing Seeking Food Justice. In the article, she uses the term famine to describe the struggle to attain food, not just a lack of food, but also as a lack of means to procure food. Often times, this is due to the growing price in organic and nutritious food, and the rise in food deserts. “One trip to a Whole Foods or a local farmer’s market (where organic produce can cost two to three times as much as conventionally grown) is enough to convince most families that they cannot afford to eat [in this way] (Hartman 2013).”
One of the biggest problems with food deserts is the lack of markets with nutritious food. Most food deserts are full of convenience stores that sell cheap food that isn’t healthy. These stores “generally offer high-calorie foods that are low in vital nutrients at relatively high prices and do not offer the wide selection of healthy foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, that can be found in supermarkets (Britannica).” This leads to diseases like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and kidney failure.
Food deserts are an underrated issue in America. Every year, thousands are affected and suffer from a lack of nutritious food made available to them. Food deserts make American’s more susceptible to disease and put them in worse health year after year. Nutritious options and food education need to be made available for people in low-income areas, especially when options like food banks and donation drives aren’t helping to rid of the problem.
“Food Desert” (2015). In Encyclopedia Britannica
Galli, A., & Clift, B. (2012). Food Justice. In Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Globalization.
Hartman, L. M. (2013). Seeking food justice. Interpretation, 67(4), 396-409,347.