Category : Food is important
Posted By : theguardian
|Food is important|
It seems unthinkable but in a major US city, thousands cannot get to places where fresh, affordable food is availableIn most of the world's densely packed urban areas, you can pick up fresh produce at a stall on the way home from work or buy bread, meat and staples at the cornershop across the street. But in sprawling metroAtlanta, where the model is megamarkets surrounded by mega parking lots, few of us have the option of a quick dash to the store.
When you're trying to figure out what to fix your young children for dinner and you realise you need milk and eggs and a bag of salad greens and chicken breasts, and you have no choice but to load everyone in the minivan and drive five miles through traffic to get to the store, you're feeling the impact of US development patterns that have made Atlanta the third-worst urban food desert in the country (behind only New Orleans and Chicago).
Living in a food desert doesn't just make it tough to get your daily servings of fruit and vegetables. A 2011 Food Trust geographic analysis of income, access to grocery stores and morbidity rates concluded that people who live in metropolitan Atlanta food deserts are more likely to die from nutrition-related sicknesses like diabetes and heart disease.
In Atlanta, the ninth-biggest metropolis of the world's richest country, thousands of people can't get fresh food, and some are getting sick as a result. Which raises a simple question: why can we build multimillion-dollar highway systems and multibillion-dollar stadiums, but not more grocery stores? If we can build a museum dedicated to a soft drink and one that celebrates college football and another that trumpets civil rights, can't we help our neighbours with what seems to be a most essential and basic right: putting an affordable and healthy dinner on the table?
When you talk about Atlanta's food deserts, you have to talk about the three themes entwined in every civic issue in this region: race, class and sprawl. The fact is, food deserts are more prevalent in non-white neighbourhoods. In poor communities, food is more expensive and there are fewer healthy options. Ironically, much of the local produce prized by the city's finest chefs is grown in urban farms in poor neighbourhoods – produce that is often trucked across town to farmers markets in wealthier enclaves. But of all the factors that contribute to Atlanta's food-desert problem, none is more important than transportation. Our low population density combined with a lack of comprehensive public transit means many people simply cannot get to places where fresh food is available.