A few years ago I remember going to a rich neighborhood in Long Island NY for a friend’s rich friend birthday party. Since we got there earlier than expected his friend asked us to come to the supermarket with him to buy some food and drinks for the party. I remembered being shocked about the variety of food and of its high quality products. Organic? I never thought about that when I went shopping with my mother at our local supermarket in Brooklyn. There was no organic food section to buy from. Moreover, I not only realize we don’t only not have the same quality of products available, but that poorer neighborhoods lack supermarkets to shop from. According to a study by Center for Food and Justices

Studies have documented the disparity in the number of supermarkets in poor communities of color, compared to wealthier, whiter communities…” Furthermore, “middle- and upper-income communities in Los Angeles County have twice as many supermarkets per capita as low-income communities; the same study found that predominantly white communities have three times the supermarkets of predominantly black communities, and nearly twice those of predominantly Latino communities.

http://www.nhi.org/online/issues/147/healthyfoods.html

During my first year of college had to do a food project for a Critical Thinking class and I remember of a classmate who lived in the projects in the Bronx who told the professor a similar story about mine. She said  “I feel at a disadvantaged for not being able to find all those healthy foods I found on my food research project” So I decided to mention this now since I still see a huge difference in access to different quality of foods when I shop for instance, in the city compared to the local grocery store in my neighborhood. But what is the meaning before good taste or quality? What is the issue? In fact, some studies confirm my observations by stating that:

‘Low-income and minority communities are by far the hardest hit as obesity and diet related Disease rates skyrocket across America.1 Health disparities among US population groups are related to inequalities In socioeconomic status…”

Moreover, their statistics show that:

■ Latino adults (43%) are the most likely to travel outside of their neighborhoods to a supermarket followed by Black (39%), Asian (30%), and White (24%) adults.

■ there is a 50% greater need among poor adults to travel to a grocery store than among the non-poor; nearly half of poor adults (44%) travel outside of their neighborhood to a grocery store, compared to 30% of the non-poor.

In conclusion, it is very conspicuous not only to see the big differences in services and products among the different social classes in every department. Whether it is food, clothing, pharmacies, etc. Of course the problem does not start with quality food access to poor neighborhoods. The problem starts with an income disadvantage and from there every product or service is a disadvantaged to the poorer communities. So even if there’s a family who receives food stamps from the government and is able to always buy food, that family does not have much of an option to choose from, but to buy what is available in their neighborhood. Thus, I realize the problem is not a food problem, but a root social problem. The huge gap between rich and poor of a “rich” country among different ethnicities.

http://www.thefoodtrust.org/pdf/Food%20Geography%20Final.pdf

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3 responses

  1. biancaghad says:

    I agree with the comments you make in your post. Just because the community may not be a rich one, does not mean that they should lack the same variety of food in supermarkets as the wealthier communities have. However, maybe supermarket owners feel that those more expensive items will not get sold because they are not a priority to those who do not have a large budget when it comes to purchasing their groceries, and they are afraid of losing money when the items are left in their shop. Nevertheless, I do believe that all supermarkets should sell items that most people buy even with a smaller budget, items that are used on a daily basis by most people; having a variety of does not mean it has to be an expensive one.

  2. You are completely right when stating that it is not a food problem, but a root social problem. This issue is something that I have noticed as well and think it is just not right. Why should only people with money have access to healthy nutritious foods? It’s sad that this is how the system works. It cant be any more obvious how not having access to healthier foods has such a negative impact on these low-income poor communities. Healthy food equals healthy people. Its unfortunate but the people that can actually do something and make changes are the people with the money and sometimes it seems like they really just don’t care unless it personally affects them.

  3. jchea.sm says:

    After reading this blog, I cannot help but recall back to the lecture we had about culture poverty. The disadvantage ones seems to never be able to move upwards in the social class. It is unfortunate to see that not the same accessibility is given to everyone especially when something that’s so essential and basic like being able to have a healthy diet. All of this relates to why certain groups tend to have a trend/pattern within in a certain disease, i.e. like you mentioned that low-income and minorities are more likely to hit obesity or diet related diseases.

    However, I feel like problem like this inevitable. As long as differences exist, differences and gaps like these will exist as well. It’s (probably) nearly impossible to rid inequality. As I am writing this, I am also reminded of Karl Marx’ concept of capitalism. In this modern society, such problem shows that capitalism itself as an inhumane system. Take food markets accessibility among class for example: because owners are concern with their self-interest, thus they only offer stores in the higher-income communities so they can maintain their business. However, it is also because of their self-interest that leads to the unequal treatments of the poorer neighborhoods. Thus, capitalism itself is the primary source of humanity’s inhumanity.

    Regarding this issue, the disadvantaged ones may view it as inhumane…certainly, the shop/market owners may be selfish for only concerning their interests…but we can’t really blame them (or call them inhumane?) because they (like the disadvantaged ones) are just striving to survive right? I don’t think it’s right that certain groups are being disadvantaged, I just think it’s inevitable and unfortunate that problem like this happen. It’s just that in this society it’s all about survival of the ‘richest’.