April 03, 2007

New York Politicoes Recognize a Poverty-Diet Connection

A recent blurb in New York Magazine announced the formation of New York's first ever Food Policy Council. If that sounds boring to you, take a closer look: the Council has been assigned the task of getting local and organic foods into low income NY neighborhoods.

Take a walk around any low income urban neighborhood and you're likely to find a liquor store on nearly every corner. Large grocery stores, which tend to carry foods at a cheaper cost than specialty or convenience stores, are hard to find—and those that do exist often feature a dismal selection of fresh produce. Good luck finding affordable organics or locally-produced options. The problem isn't just one of convenience or deliciousness; studies have shown that lower income communities have higher rates of obesity, diabetes and other diet-related conditions.

This is where food policy councils come in. Although your state or community may already have one, chances are you don't know about it (see this list for your local council). These councils tend to operate in the background, with small budgets and little attention. That's what happens when your focus is something as mundane as how food gets from point A to point B.

Luckily, however, the tide is starting to turn. Thanks to a huge burst of press, not least of which includes Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, people are paying more attention to their food supply. As farmers scramble to plant more corn (no, not for consumption—for fuel, instead), and children continue to go hungry right here in the U.S., how we handle our food becomes extremely important. Call me crazy, but I can't help thinking we're in for a massive cultural shift when it comes to feeding ourselves. Hopefully.


Further reading:
"Transportation, Food Supplies and Local Economies" at Worldchanging.com
"Healthy Foods, Strong Communities" report by the National Housing Insitute
People's Grocery, a mobile grocery store based in Oakland, CA
State and local food policy councils FAQ


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1 Comment(s)

Blogger Dani Nordin said...

Also, if you notice, lower-income neighborhoods tend to have more McDonald's and Taco Bells and KFCs around, and the parents "treat their kids" to the places as a reward for behaving well. Growing up in a particularly poor section of Providence, I got a few bucks every morning to get breakfast at the local McD's because my mom didn't have time to make me breakfast in the morning.

9:25 PM  

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