The Food Desert

If you have had the opportunity to take a look at the government’s newest set of dietary guidelines, which came out last week, you may have noticed that they touched on socioeconomic hurdles that hinder those living in urban areas of low income.

Unfortunately, for many living in these areas, accessibility to healthy foods is greatly limited and too distant for many—these areas are better known as “food deserts”.

From my personal experience, I had once lived in a food desert during the first eight months that I was living in Philadelphia in 2009-2010, so I have first-hand knowledge of the challenges to eat healthy when living there. Since I was a bachelor, working a 9-to-5 office job, without kids and competing as a rower, riding the bus for thirty minutes each way to get to Trader Joe’s was tough, but necessary challenge to face to keep healthy. However, for some of my neighbors, many of whom worked two or three jobs, and had young children to care for, nutritious eating habits tended to take the back seat because the bus ride to the Trader Joe’s was not a feasible option, thus obesity was common since only fast-food restaurants and corner stores were within reach.

Recently, city planners and local government leaders in large cities, such as Philadelphia and San Diego, have taken notice of such food deserts and implemented programs to incentivize small bodegas and street vendors to sell fruit, as well.

While the challenge to eat healthy is very real for some, the responsibility for deciding what one eats will always be that individual’s. With companies like Vons and Amazon growing each year, individuals, particularly those living in food deserts, this could be a major step to a healthier community.

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