Home Social Construct No Myths Here: Food Stamps, Food Deserts and Food Scarcity

No Myths Here: Food Stamps, Food Deserts and Food Scarcity

by Erika Nicole Kendall

When I was about 5 or so, I used to go to my grandmother’s house during the day while my Mother went to work. I remember catching the bus and sleeping across my Mom’s lap until we got there, and then her hugging me and heading off to do whatever it was she did all day. (I was five. Clearly, I had no idea.)

Grandma was cool, but there was always a bajillion people at her house. She lived in the projects*, and spent a big portion of her day being “Mama”to everyone even though she was well into her 50s.

I remember, as a kid, how the big thing was for us to run across the street to the convenient store and get a Big Red pop and a bag of chips. All for $0.50. I mean, it was how we spent every afternoon. Because Grandma’s house was full of people, it was never hard for me to get a hold of two quarters – ahhh, two shiny, glorious quarters – so that I could be like the rest of the kids and sit in the middle of the grass and eat my funyuns or my munchos and my Big Red pop.

(I’m from the Midwest. We say pop, thank you very much.)

It wasn’t that I was Grandma’s favorite, but…. well, I was Grandma’s favorite. She invested a lot of time and effort into me. She taught me to read – she’d hand me the newspaper and make me read every page out loud – and she taught me how to be a little lady. She taught me how to love, as a young girl, because outside of that typical adoration that a young girl has for her mother, you learn that that thing that binds you to Grandma emotionally and you understand it even more so once she’s gone. That made her valuable.

However, I must admit. If there’s one thing I don’t remember, it’s going to a grocery store with Grandma. We just.. we never went together. At least, we didn’t go to a grocery store as I know a grocery store to be today. The only store I ever saw her go to was the convenient store across the street.

And now that I think about it, there’s a lot of things I don’t remember about that time with Grandma.

I don’t remember a lot of cooking going on. I don’t even know that I remember any fresh vegetables there. I mean, I remember my Great Grandma – my Grandma’s mother – having that gorgeous garden in her fenced-off backyard, but Grandma didn’t have that kind of backyard. The soil didn’t even have grass on it. It was just hard dirt. I know. I fell on it and scraped myself up a few times.

I guess that’s to be expected. It’s not like it was quality, “prime” real estate or anything. It’s not even like anyone cares to maintain the area. I guess.

I remember running to one particular house in the building in the back of the projects where the free lunch was given out. Bologna, milk, cheese, bread, and little mustard packets to dress the makeshift sandwiches. All the kids used to make a mad dash back there because they were always limited in how much they had and how many kids would be able to sit in there, and if you were last, you went hungry.

As a different woman today, I can acknowledge that that housing project community was a food desert. That even though Grandma was doing all she could to make sure I never went hungry, there was rarely a vegetable on the plate. Even though she meant very well and did the best that she could, I know I picked up a lot of bad habits from that time in my life.

In fact, it sounds a lot like this paragraph from the NYTimes blog:

Poor urban neighborhoods in America are often food deserts — places where it is difficult to find fresh food.   There are few grocery stores; people may do all their shopping at bodegas, where the only available produce and meat are canned peaches and Spam.  If they want fruits and vegetables and chicken and fish, they have to take a bus to a grocery store.   The lack of fresh food creates a vicious cycle; children grow up never seeing it or acquiring a taste for it.  It is one reason that the poor are likelier to be obese than the rich. [source]

When I hear people complain about the cost of fresh food and use this as an excuse to not eat it, it makes me think about those projects where so many people who were, actually, given money by the government to eat couldn’t even access the healthy food. My Grandma, while she might’ve been able to catch a bus to hit the grocery store, might’ve had difficulty doing this since she was the family babysitter. Her, four kids (one of them facing a mental disability), and countless bags with enough food to feed the numerous people that’d be in and out of her house to eat? On the bus? You’re joking, right?

Back to the point. All that food stamp money in the projects, and no fresh food in the area to spend it on.

Whenever we talk about problems with our food system, we often talk about access… and yeah, we might toss around the phrase “food desert,” but is that ever quantified? Are the ramifications of growing up in a food desert ever discussed? Do places like the Morris Brown projects ever come up for discussion? Or are they never mentioned because it’s assumed they don’t matter?

A while back, I wrote the following:

I can specifically remember a time when I lived in a food desert, and the only food store nearby was a gas station. My daughter was on formula at the time, and I used to purchase that in bulk and have that shipped. For myself, though, it was whatever I could get at the store. A bag of chips for breakfast, a bag of chips for lunch, a bowl of ice cream for dinner. If I wanted to go to the grocery, I had to either beg one of my girls to take me or call a taxi. I eventually called the taxi and cut back on groceries so that I could afford the ride, but… it was a lonnng time before I came to that realization.

It made perfect sense, though, that the grocery stores would be on the other side of town from me. The area where I lived was wholly college students living on that good ol’ beer and pizza diet… as evidenced by the abundance of pizza joints, sub shops and drive-thru liquor stores. The stores that a young Mom like me needed… were at least two miles away. With no car, that was quite the struggle.

But if you think about it, isn’t that how Capitalism works? When there is a demand, the promise of profit guarantees that there will always be someone willing and able to jump in and fulfill that need, right? In my neighborhood, there was a high demand for pizza joints and liquor stores. That’s what the college kids wanted. I was the random weird outlier with an infant in a college apartment complex.

The reason that food deserts exist is because it is assumed that the people in those geographic locations cannot afford the products that a fresh food-selling store would provide. This is also an automatic assumption of the projects, because the implication is “if these people had any money, they wouldn’t be living in the projects after all.”

That’s just how Capitalism works. Big C. Supply goes where the demand is located. If there’s no money, then clearly there’s no demand off which the investor can profit.

My question, really, is what do we gain from denying the realities of food deserts? How do we benefit from silencing the voices of the un-privileged? If we can identify that fresh food is expensive, why wouldn’t we want to hear from the people most affected by that? If we deny the fact that food deserts exist, you silence the input of those of us who have been affected by this problem the most. Those of us who have been on government assistance and live in still-impoverished areas offer up the critique of the system that says that the government is giving away money to be spent on the very things making us ill and preventing us from healing ourselves.

We also shoot ourselves in our collective feet when we decide to downplay food deserts because it prevents us from ever finding a solution to the problem. What about offering incentives to investors – franchise, corporate and otherwise – who build in food deserts? Why can’t we do that? Why not offer incentives up the chain – tax incentives for security measures (since a lot of these places fear theft and property damage), incentives for the space of the store dedicated solely to fresh produce? We can’t do that because we’re too busy debating their existence. Y’all know I have a problem with that.

So, it saddens me to know that the big politicians that I vote for to get the big checks are not offering up the answers that we need to solve this problem in particular, especially since they’re never walking through (or helicoptering through, even) the projects (or a trailer park, or a low-income community in general) to see what struggles people like this face. Realistically speaking, they’re facing the same struggles that “middle-class” Americans are facing. Middle-class America , for the most part, just knows how to hide it better. If anything would’ve taught us that, it would be the up-spring of foreclosure signs in our very nice, quaint neighborhoods.

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20 comments

Jem May 24, 2011 - 1:13 PM

Great article. I’m a new reader (never heard of this blog until recently), and so far I really like what you’re offering here!

MP May 24, 2011 - 1:58 PM

My hometown comes up in auto-fill when I start typing “food desert” into a search engine. I guess it’s the poster child. It’s no surprise to me that the privileged are/were not aware that food deserts exist, but it saddens me as well that people want to debate their existence once they hear about them. It surprised me to learn that rural areas, home of farms that produce food, have food deserts as well. If I pause and think about it for a second it makes sense. Still, if I wasn’t familiar, why would I debate their existence?

There will still be more to do after that initial debate is over. The first home I recall living in was within walking distance to a gas station convenience store and and a grocery. On a regular basis, my cousins and I were making our own pop & chips trek to the corner gas station. However, my aunt who was the main cook in our home and who did not drive (and received public assistance at times), generally refused to shop at the grocery because the food was not fresh or somehow off in her opinion. She relied on my mother, taxis and public transportation to reach food that was up to her standards. I say all that to say that I don’t just want any market to kill a food desert, I want one with fresh food.

Today my hindsight tells me that my aunt could have gotten like my grandmother, who lived in the house before her, and maintained a garden in our backyard to help with the issue. However, I recognize that everyone doesn’t have the fertile land or able bodies to do that. Even though my circumstances are different now, I wonder if rising food prices will eventually make me suck up my aversion to the outdoors and pick up where my grandmother left off. I think my hometown is also becoming the poster child for “urban agriculture” now as well.

Bannef July 28, 2011 - 7:33 PM

Community gardens are another option, and there are definitely some exciting things happening there, but sadly food deserts are often located in areas with dangerous soil. It makes sense – a lot of these neighborhoods lost their jobs (and with them their money, and with that their grocery stores…) when manufacturing failed in the 80s. The South Side of Chicago and Detroit come quickly to mind. But even though the factories might have been torn down years ago the chemicals they used in manufacturing still pollute the soil, meaning that even areas with lots of dirt would have to buy new soil in order to grow anything safe for people to eat. Urban gardening is an exciting topic, but there are a lot of hurdles.

Serenity May 24, 2011 - 3:55 PM

Agreed. Very informative article. But……. It has been my experience that people get what they want. Some bodegas have produce, but if the people won’t buy it and they have to throw them out because they are rotten and riddled with fruit flies then what’s the point?

Erika Nicole Kendall May 24, 2011 - 4:04 PM

“People get what they want,” not when were talking about poor people. Not only is money a physical issue, it’s an influential one. I’ve written about this before, as well. The appearance of “what they want” is conflated with “what sells,” and since no one is speaking for them to clarify, we still have this problem.

Serenity May 26, 2011 - 9:41 AM

I grew up in an urban environment, and all the corner stores and bodegas had some kind of produce. And if you didn’t see what you wanted you asked for it. Asking enough for something and eventually they would get it. Even if it was in small amounts or just for you.

Erika Nicole Kendall May 26, 2011 - 9:50 AM

So, in other words, your experiences invalidate the experiences of others whose experiences dictate otherwise?

Or, perhaps your environment had more money than others?

Bannef July 28, 2011 - 7:41 PM

I did a project on food deserts, and this is the same song that plenty of bodega owners offered. But where did they get the fruit that was requested? From a grocery store (many neighborhoods over – the bodega owners were generally luckier than the neighborhood residents and owned cars). So in order for them to make any kind of profit off of this (since they didn’t buy wholesale) they needed to jack up their prices like crazy. When you add in that they weren’t getting the produce delivered fresh, they were expecting people to pay high prices for low quality fruits and vegetables, and when people didn’t or couldn’t go for this they said the problem is the low demand. Not that I’m blaming the bodega owners – they need to feed their families too! But you can’t necessarily blame the situation on the people not asking for fresh produce. (Of course this is just what I saw in a few neighborhoods, but there are challenges all over.)

But part of the problem definitely is that because kids only have access to overly processed, unhealthy food, they only ask for such things as they grow up. So there is an issue of demand too – grocery stores magically getting beamed into these neighborhood wouldn’t fix everything. Like Erika has said elsewhere – you need the education too.

Eva May 25, 2011 - 12:37 PM

But how do you know what someone wants? It’s assumed that certain people won’t eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Even in NYC were we do have a great public transportation system there are food deserts, places where you might have to take TWO buses to get to a market.

April May 25, 2011 - 5:35 AM

I know exactly what you’re talking about! I’ve lived in several food deserts and I always noticed that the only place to shop were the corner stores. Couldn’t find fresh foods and vegetables anywhere but you could get hamburger and fried chicken baskets.Jungle juice, 25 cent snack cakes and chips and so on. The grocery stores were always a car or bus ride away and who wanted to deal with trying to get there if you didn’t have your own car? Currently I live in a area where you cannot afford to eat unhealthy. Although there are several fast food places, there are grocery stores that sit across the street from each other. They even have extensive organic sections. We also have a health food store. I mean there are so many oppertunities to live a healthier lifestyle. Some of my friends and family complain about the cost of eating healthier and I tell them that I rather pay a little more for my health now (better food) than pay more for it later( medical cost).

Daphne May 25, 2011 - 10:01 AM

See, this is why I have an issue with, say, the Michael Pollans of the food movement world, even if I agree with them in theory. Because they’re operating from class privilege, this issue is never addressed, or outright dismissed, by them. (And I realize there are other voices in this conversation, who do address food deserts and the fallout from it……but I also know that they’re not the ones getting the proverbial microphone).

The other thing rarely discussed is the generational aspect of it. If there are 2-3 generations of a family who have lived in a food desert, and NEVER had access to fresh and minimally processed food, or no concept of what clean eating is – you can’t just say “people get what they want or do what they want to do.” There is a previous post on food culture, and this post made me think about the ladies who shared their stories of family members demanding/preferring certain types of food at family gatherings. Of course, those people go with what they know – it’s what they’re used to, and what’s likely been passed down from at least one generation. Cultural ties, even the unhealthy ones, are not easily broken.

Also, there is a significant difference between growing up in the projects, and growing up in the country, maybe on a farm. Yet, I perceive that the two are somewhat conflated often enough, in terms of discussions of the “poor” or “underclass.” But growing up in a rural area, where there is much greater opportunity to live off the land (assuming it’s fertile) and develop some sustainable skills is sooooooo different from growing up in the projects, where a backyard is a luxury, not to mention a section where you could actually do some gardening.

And so the lack of knowledge continues, until some people who have the privilege of 1) being naturally slim, 2) being naturally slim and always having access to fresh food, or 3) recently gained access to fresh food (i.e. the socially, economically mobile) start judging what the po’ folks do or don’t do. And they vastly underestimate the power of resources and ACCESS to those resources, so they assume because it’s easily accessible for THEM, then it’s the same for everybody. After all, we’re the United States, right? Not like we’re a 3rd world country or something.

My family lived in the projects for several years, until I was about 6 or 7, then we moved into a house. Even then, the closest store within walking distance was a convenience store and a gas station. Now, we had a car and my dad’s work truck, so we didn’t have to rely on public transportation. But there was one grocery store close by, and while there was produce – it wasn’t the freshest. A good deal of the food we ate came from the school cafeteria where my mom worked, and she would bring leftovers. Now, we never went hungry – far from it. But there wasn’t much in the way of fresh fruits and vegetables in our home. And my family never thought much about it, since I was the only one of 9 children who got the shaft in the genetic lottery and had the misfortune of being a fat child. Of course, ALL of my siblings have weight issues now, as adults, because those eating habits we grew up with carried on into their adulthood, and their metabolisms aren’t enough anymore; also, in terms of class mobility, there wasn’t much of a change for them.

Contrast that to the present with me – the youngest, I’m middle class, and have access to a SuperTarget, two or three produce stands, a Publix, and a Sweetbay, all within a 2-3 mile radius, AND on a bus line. Even with all of that access, I still make a concerted effort to change my eating habits. Cultural binds can be hard to break, especially as it relates to something as vital as the food we eat.

As you mention, Erika, the lack of political influence from the poor(er) groups drives the lack of interest. I don’t know, I suppose as long as there is plausible deniability among those with influence, it may never be address.

Sorry for the long post.

Erika Nicole Kendall May 25, 2011 - 12:04 PM

Your long posts are always welcome here, mama. Sometimes, having people explain these things in different and, even, better ways helps to ensure the delivery of the message. 🙂

Eva May 25, 2011 - 12:33 PM

Totally on point!

“The reason that food deserts exist is because it is assumed that the people in those geographic locations cannot afford the products that a fresh food-selling store would provide. This is also an automatic assumption of the projects, because the implication is “if these people had any money, they wouldn’t be living in the projects after all.”

True that. I live in Harlem and there are about four supermarkets in my area, all in walking distance (5 if you include Path Mark). But the produce section didn’t improve until the area became gentrified, meaning until white people started moving in.

Kerrie C. May 25, 2011 - 1:28 PM

Hey Erica,
I love this article…. sometimes I read your blogs & I feel like you are reading my thoughts & views!! I felt like you were describing my times/experiences over my grandmothers (house full, projects, foodstamps , corner store, pops, penny candy & chips) I swear!!!!! I grew up & still live in Midwest(Cincinnati, OH). This made me really think about the way I was raised & the foods we ate. While being at my grandmothers it was procesed/canned/quick food central she did the best she could w/what she had & loved on all us grand & great grand kids. I also remember my mother who struggled, worked 2 jobs(she refused 2 be on public assisstance) & didn’t have a car.. we took the bus or taxi to the market where she brought fresh fruit & veggies & we also made many trips to grocery store via cab. Back then I hated the taxi/bus & carrying all those friggin’ bags, but now I’m so grateful for those experiences & what it taught me. My mother rocks & so do you!! Keep up the awesome work!!!!

J June 25, 2011 - 3:14 PM

Great article.

Someone mentioned issues with the “Michael Pollan’s” of the world. I totally get what you mean (and I personally love and own Food Rules, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and In Defense of Food). I’ve been writing some articles on the topic of alternative food sources (i.e., community gardens, CSA programs, collective kitchens, farmers’ markets, etc.) and I came across this article: “Should we go home to eat? A reflexive politics of localism,” by Dupuis and Goodman in the Journal of Rural Studies. If you have access to a university’s library, I encourage you to check it out. It starts a really good discussion of some of the classism in the organic/”natural”/locavore movement, and how it has the potential to do so much better for so many more people.

Excerpts from Dupuis and Goodman:

“Food activists in the US and proponents in Europe of
agrarian-based rural development both therefore argue
that localist solutions resist the injustices perpetrated by
industrial capitalism. But is localism in itself more
socially just?Along with Harvey (2001), we are
concerned that localism can be based on the interests
of a narrow, sectionalist, even authoritarian, elite, what
we call an ‘‘unreflexive’’ politics. To formulate a more
reflexive politics of localism, we draw specifically on the
social justice literature, and on the idea of an ‘‘open
politics’’ of reflexivity to envision a localism that is more
socially just while leaving open a definition of social
justice. Unreflexive politics are generally based on what
Childs (2003) refers to as ‘‘the politics of conversion’’: a
small, unrepresentative group decides what is ‘‘best’’ for
everyone and then attempts to change the world by
converting everyone to accept their utopian ideal.”

“In this respect,
Hinrichs and Kremer (2002) show that local food system
movement members tend to be white, middle-class
consumers and that the movement threatens to be
socially homogenized and exclusionary. In a case-study
of recent initiatives to relocalize the food system in
Iowa, Hinrichs (2003, p. 37) cautions that these attempts
to construct regional identity can be associated with a
‘‘defensive politics of localization,’’ leading to reification
of the ‘local’ and becoming ‘‘elitist and reactionary,
appealing to nativist sentiments.’’
Allen et al. (2003) also demonstrate that localism in
current alternative food movements is not necessarily
associated with advocacy of more socially just ‘‘care
ethic’’ political agendas.”

“These critiques show that the politics of localism can
be problematic and contradictory. However, these
critiques are not made to de-legitimize localism but to
provide a better understanding of the complexity and
pitfalls of local politics and the long-term deleterious
effects of reform movements controlled primarily by
members of the middle class. The social history of
middle class reform movements bent on ‘‘improvement,’’
whether of ‘‘degraded’’ urban environments or
unhealthy working class families, created a ‘‘sanitarian’’
(Hamlin, 1998) germ politics, which separated the
‘‘dirty’’ from the ‘‘clean’’ and, in the same way,
established a welfare system that distinguished between
the ‘‘deserving’’ and the ‘‘undeserving’’ poor.”

“…institutionalized racism is hidden behind a representation
of what is ‘‘normal’’, with all variations from this
norm represented as deviations. For example, a coalition
of white middle-class reform groups, health officials
and farmers elevated milk to the status of a ‘‘perfect
food’’ which would improve the general health of all
bodies when, in fact, milk is a culturally, genetically, and
historically specific food (DuPuis, 2002).
A reflexive local politics of food would entail taking
into account ways in which people’s notions of ‘‘right
living,’’ and especially ‘‘right eating,’’ are wrapped up in
these possessive investments in race, class and gender.
Such a politics would actively seek to expose and
undermine the tendency of specific groups to work from
this ‘‘politics of perfection’’, which universalizes and
elevates particular ways of eating as ideal when, in fact,
all eating—like all human action—is imperfect and
contradictory (Guthman and DuPuis, forthcoming).”

JoAnna June 26, 2011 - 3:24 AM

I think I’ve always lived in a food desert, but I’ve always found a way to travel to get to decent food. My grandmother had a small garden in her yard, but I hated having to help her weed and “de-bug” it. I was her pack mule at the farmer’s mkt at the end of the day when she would pick up boxes of “gotta-go-now” produce for $1. From her, I learned how to pare bruised peaches, flattened tomatoes, stumpy corn for cooking and freezing. Waste not, want not was her motto. My mother believed in convenience foods, and refused to have a vegetable garden at her house. So most veggies were frozen brocolli, frozen spinach, frozen peas, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers which was about all you could buy at the grocery store 3 blocks from out house. Between the two, I thought fresh vegetables were a pain! I had to “discover” fresh vegetables and seasonal fruits about 3 years ago, and they’re nowhere near my house. If I want decent tasting strawberries at 3lbs for $5, I have to drive 15mins away by freeway into the suburbs to Westborn. The store has fantastic seasonal produce, and top notch groceries, and the prices reflect that. It’s not one-stop shopping! When I took the bus, I had to take 2 because I left the city limits. The weekend farmer’s mkt is in the middle of a retail/wholesale warehouse food district that operates 6 days per week, but is 2 buses ( plus 4 blocks) away from me (or 10mins by car) but the fresh produce is only good on Saturday. There’s a “You buy/we fry” fish market with weekly $1.99/lb fish specials, but who is going to buy fresh fish to trek home on the bus? I live in a poor neighborhood and I’ve started a decent vegetable garden in my yard by amending my poor soil with compost and topsoil. I’ve shared vegetable seedlings with my neighbors but they aren’t interested too much in fresh vegetables. We had a neighborhood potluck last year and I took a medley of grilled vegetables from my garden: eggplant, corn, tomatoes, summer squash, and onions. People told me my vegetables didn’t taste like vegetables. Some of them had never had zucchini unless it had been battered, deep fried, and then dunked in ranch sauce! Pitiful to see loads of hotdogs, chicken, hamburgers, potato salad, chips, popsicles, pop, creamy coleslaw, and my lone platter of vegetables. Everyone knows about the farmer’s mkt but it’s considered a “white” thing, or a “country” thing. I’m the neighborhood eccentric because each year, I’ve added to my vegetable garden and plant flowers. When I mention that I get a lot of stuff from the farmer’s mkt, there’s this “Oh. That again.” look.

Tachae November 4, 2011 - 3:00 PM

As a teen approaching her twenties, all I have to say is this: I wish you had been my neighbor. :/

Monique English June 23, 2013 - 5:05 PM

I find it quite amazing that some people use that excuse about the cornor stores not selling fresh fruits and vegtables as a way of staying unhealthy. I receive food stamps and get 6 dollars in wic to purchase fresh fruit. If you spend your food stamps wisely you can maintain a healthy lifestyle. My daughter is already prone to eating fresh fruits and vegtables, and she is only one years old. Her favorite fruits are grapes and oranges and strawberries Also she doesn’t get alot of juice even if its 100% percent juice which I get through wic. Having food stamps and being on wic is no excuse to not eat healthy. Yes you may have to leave yourneighborhood or spend a little bit more. But isn’t youand your family’s health worth it?

artemis April 2, 2014 - 10:26 AM

Never to let science get in the way of a good anecdote, but… according to the CDC and the Department of Agriculture, food deserts aren’t really the problem you say.

http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2013/12_0123.htm

“More discouraging for those invested in fighting food deserts is data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2009 and 2012 they showed that for the most part, poorer neighborhoods had more grocery stores, not fewer.” – See more at: http://conscienhealth.org/2014/02/the-persistent-mythology-of-food-deserts/#sthash.Ic0X73RX.dpuf

Erika Nicole Kendall April 2, 2014 - 11:46 AM

Never to let praxis interfere with the context of what we actually research…

1) California, a state with an average BMI among the lowest in the country, is the only state researched in your first link. I’d expect a state with an exceptional agriculture system that functions practically year-round to have better access and availability, and for its local groceries and corner stores (and highways, for that matter) to have a larger stock of produce. Because of this, I also wouldn’t expect a state like California to show, as quoted, “Food outlets within walking distance (≤1.0 mile) were not strongly associated with dietary intake, BMI, or probabilities of a BMI of 25.0 or more or a BMI of 30.0 or more.” The first quarter of the book The American Way of Eating by MacMillan would show you why.

2) Your second link is cute, but again – no context. What are the qualifications for what’s considered a “grocery store?” You say the term “grocery store,” and we immediately think Publix, Kroger, Pathmark, Ralph’s, Albertson’s. When’s the last time you surveyed the produce available in a “poorer environment?” The local bodega, which only carries JUST ENOUGH produce to qualify for accepting WIC and SNAP – literally two vegetables – counts as a “grocery store” within these contexts. Any study which fails to quantify the quality of what’s available at these stores will fail to meet my standard for consideration in this conversation.

The reality – something which both of your links fails to address – is the fact that access to poor quality produce (see examples and discussion surrounding this here, here, and here) is practically just as bad as access to NO produce at all. Either one will result in children growing up never having a taste for produce, and adults who never feel a need to make time to invest in acquiring it, regardless of how much time it takes to do so.

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