When we think of a desert, states like Alabama and Maine are not the first places to come to mind. We think of the hot scorching brown lands of Arizona and New Mexico, void of rain or green vegetation.
Enter: the food desert. A food desert is an area that has little to no access to fresh produce. This is especially true for inner cities and rural areas where a trip to a supermarket could take upwards of 30 minutes. Residents of these areas tend to be unhealthy with various health issues including obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Living in a food desert means that your health is at stake because of factors that are out of your control.
Many who live in this environment are misunderstood. It’s not that they want to be unhealthy or that they enjoy eating foods loaded with chemicals and preservatives. They simply do not have the funds or transportation to get to the healthy products. For example, if a corner store is only a block and you are a single parent stopping there after work, you will naturally shop there. If it takes two bus transfers and a mile walk each way to get to the store, a person may not have the time to even stop.
So what can we do to combat this?
On an individual level, donating fresh produce to your local food pantry is a start. This way those with little resources who may be homeless have fresh options . You can also write to companies and address local businesses to carry healthier products.
On a larger scale, companies should look at local communities as sources of progression. Instead of assuming that these people can not afford anything and will not shop at healthy stores, they should invest in the health and success of the people around them.
By Allison Smith