Home The Op-Eds The Unbearable Whiteness of Eating: How The Food Culture War Affects Black America

The Unbearable Whiteness of Eating: How The Food Culture War Affects Black America

by Erika Nicole Kendall

In the past three or so weeks, I’ve read no less than eight “pieces” referencing white people and their inalienable right to, basically, eat garbage.

No. I’m serious. That’s the “food culture war.” “You may not like what I eat, but I’ll defend to my death my right to eat it.”

The right to eat complete and total garbage processed food is even painted as patriotic – the “right of the ‘real American'”:

In her book Diet for a Hot Planet, Anna Lappé writes of a sly technique advertisers often use, “The food industry…is skilled at inoculation messaging, and part of its success comes from the ‘we’re one of you’ pitch.” She adds later, “The message, whether from Perdue, Nestle, or Cargill, is that these companies are like us; they care about the same things we do. It’s a message that forms another strand of the inoculation strategy.”This “we’re one of you” ideology coupled with the food product’s corresponding affordability is slick marketing at its best.

You may remember a similar strategy used by Sarah Palin and John McCain in their 2008 Presidential campaign. Palin’s constant invocation of Joe the Plumber, Joe Six Pack, and soccer moms was the same “we’re one of you” rhetoric. Palin worked this angle again recently when she came running to the defense of the “real” Americans as she personally gave out cookies to elementary school students in her effort to stop the food police from depriving children of their god-given right to eat sugar-laden, processed foods. [source]

Let me explain my problem.

When I hear of people bucking the “system” – that system that seeks to define what “good food,” “real food” and “healthy” really are and what they really mean – I hear people who are making a case against government intervention.

And trust me… I get it. I may get it from a different angle, but I get it. I don’t want government involvement in dealing with food because it’s already shown me that it does a piss poor job of doing that. This isn’t where most of these people are coming from, though. This is coming from a place of “You’ll take my Big Mac from me when you pry it from my cold, dead hand.”

It comes from a place of privilege. It comes from a place of “I can make the choice to eat better. I just don’t want to do so.” Emphasis on choice.

And on any other day, I might accept the assertion that this is a class issue – that food is often a burden of money, one that people don’t want to take on which is why it is so easy to embrace and defend those who provide us with inexpensive offerings regardless of quality – but only if that math is carried out to the remainder, which is that “class” is often used as code meant to exclude Blacks from “the upper class” by default even when the Blacks in question are inherently not lower-or-even-middle class.

When we make food an issue of choice, there is an underlying understanding that everyone, in fact, has that choice to make. There is an accepted belief, in conversations about choosing to eat healthily, that everyone stands between a produce section and a frozen TV dinner section and, invariably, chooses at their discretion. There’s an underlying acceptance in these conversations that food deserts do not exist. That food deserts don’t exist in inner cities… mostly populated by Black Americans. There is an acceptance that food availability doesn’t need to be discussed, because all the people involved in the conversation have access.

Is that a happenstance? A mere coincidence? I might’ve thought so before, but now? I’m not so sure.

Here, on BGG2WL, we talk – often – about how to make healthier living affordable. How to get multiple uses out of each inexpensive item at the store. How to be resourceful. But guess what – the very nature of the fact that we are, in fact, visibly Black while living healthily? This pretty much excludes us from being counted as “living proof of the benefits of healthy lifestyling,” or even “people who show concern for our environment.”

A lonnnnng time ago, I read a comment on Racialicious that fits into what I’m saying here, and it needs to be highlighted. Again.

It reminds me of the “bike to work” movement. That is also portrayed as white, but in my city more than half of the people on bike are not white. I was once talking to a white activist who was photographing “bike commuters” and had only pictures of white people with the occasional “black professional” I asked her why she didn’t photograph the delivery people, construction workers etc. … ie. the black and Hispanic and Asian people… and she mumbled something about trying to “improve the image of biking” then admitted that she didn’t really see them as part of the “green movement” since they “probably have no choice” —

I was so mad I wanted to quit working on the project she and I were collaborating on.

So, in the same way when people in a poor neighborhood grow food in their yards … it’s just being poor– but when white people do it they are saving the earth or something.

And YES black people on bikes and with gardens DO have an awareness of the environment. Surprisingly so! These values are in our communities and they are good values. My Grandmother was an organic gardener before it was “cool” –My mother believed in composting all waste and recycling whatever could be reused– it was a religious thing. God hates waste. [source]

Again, the focus on “choice,” something that – as we see often here on BGG2WL – not everyone is afforded. There’s also that class/race-defaulting thing going on here, too – if “poor people” (who are, assumedly, of color – and don’t we all assume poor people are people of color?) are just being poor by growing their own food (’cause, y’know, they can’t afford to pay all that money to eat garbage) and “white people” are assigned the noble position of “saving the Earth” by growing their own food… what are poor white people doing when they grow their own food? I mean, they’re poor, yes… but they’re not default poor, which is Black or “Brown.”

There’s an unwillingness to see food as an issue that goes beyond choice… an unwillingness to go beyond the anecdotal “There’s a grocery store in my inner city and those people still eat like crap! Food deserts don’t exist!” message that pops up in conversations about accessibility. We can never address the real causes and solutions to food deserts because we’re so busy debating their existence.

We can’t accept that there are places where people aren’t afforded that choice and move from there because we’re too busy having to contend with this element of white populism that rejoices in not knowing things. We spend far too much time dealing with people who refuse to go beyond their front yard – or their citiy’s “downtown,” even though it is clear that food deserts often are not that far away from the average person – to understand the plight of others, simply because it is not their plight. We spend too much time with people who very well may, in one form or another, subconsciously suppress “food availability” as a Black issue…. and we all know that that’s a step toward populist acceptance of the idea that “labeling something a Black issue means that white America doesn’t have to address it.” Y’know, because us Blacks aren’t “real Americans.”

Again, the rejoicing in not knowing things.

The thing that makes this even more annoying to me, though? The fact that what makes a real and genuine acceptance of food deserts so far out of reach… is the fact that we can’t even get a national conversation about what “real food” actually is. Why? Again, because the status quo is fueled by a marketing ploy that knows that white populists, those who can afford – it is assumed that they can afford it, yes, “because they’re white” – to eat like crap, don’t want to know. It’s that simple. Talk about the purity of food is written off as, as I saw in the comments for an NYT op-ed, “the insistence on purity by the entitled and privileged.”

So desiring purity of the very things required for our survival is akin to racial cleansing? Now, we can’t even educate the public on how to make choices – if and when they are, in fact, faced with that choice to make – because being educated is too much intervention, and the public should be left to its own nutrition and educational devices in regards to learning what and how to eat. Besides, who could ever think that Perdue and Nestle would make harmful food? They’re one of us.

Again with the not knowing.

And shouldn’t it be an issue? Shouldn’t it be a big damn deal? Shouldn’t it be a concern of society that there are people who, in fact, don’t have access to the education for and tools of healthy lifestyling? That there are people – Black and white – who suffer from this mentality of “everyone has the opportunity to make these choices?” Considering the vast majority of Americans classified as overweight and obese, shouldn’t there be a loud enough battle cry of “discuss accessibility!” to make people take notice? Not if they’re too busy engaging in a culture war where they decided, early on in the battle, that they don’t want the appropriate weapons with which to fight – knowledge.

My point is this: although it’s really cute to watch “real Americans” complain about the attack on their culture and watch “liberal elites” mock them by calling themselves “food snobs” while “physically moving to other cities to ‘prove’ that healthy lifestyling is possible“…both sides dismiss, to a disgusting degree, the fact that people – beyond the poor and (assumedly) Black – still do, in fact, lack the access and education necessary to make healthy lifestyling possible. And until we establish this as fact and address these issues first, this talk will never be seen as anything more than “cute ramblings” of those who rejoice in not knowing things.

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reddgrrll April 5, 2011 - 1:38 PM

Don’t get me started… I took my daughter to the playground this past weekend. For a snack, I packed a snack bag of almonds and a bottled water for her to snack on during the outing. All the other kids were walking around with ice cream, pototo chips and soda. My daughter was looking at me like “Um… where are my sugar laden treats?” The kids couldn’t even play without having to stop and sit their food down, then pick it up when they were done “playing”. One kid, she could not have been more than 4 years old was toting around the BIG can of Pringles… not the small can or even the 100 calorie pack of Pringles, but the BIG can… I just don’t understand. That’s not how we were raised. Those high calorie treats back then were actually TREATS, not mainstays of the day. SIGH!!!

Daphne April 5, 2011 - 2:05 PM

What scares me particularly about these conversations is the appropriation of white populist, privileged attitudes by other black people, particularly those in the middle class (or above). I don’t pretend to read and understand the breadth and depth of the Black netsphere. However, I’ve often wondered about the backgrounds of some who are so passionate about this. Never mind the ability to parse out racial nuances in most other areas. When it comes to healthy living and weight loss – suddenly, it’s the sole province of personal responsibility. Riiiiggghhht.

So now, not only are certainly groups of blacks being judged, at times condemned, and left behind by whites, the dominant group in the United States, but also by other blacks. Except that the motivations and privileges of whites are (rightfully) scrutinized, but other blacks are “keepin’ it real” and coming from a place of true concern. Just sayin’ – John McWhorter’s skepticism on food deserts is likely shared by a lot more black people than realized.

Erika Nicole Kendall April 5, 2011 - 2:27 PM

What’s even more hilarious about that is the points that said “other Black people” may be seeking to score by adopting that attitude… are rarely, if ever, received.

I just question how many Blacks are THAT disassociated from the inner city – or from racial politics… or even agri-politics, for that matter – that they’re oblivious to this. I’m not willing to say there are none, but not to the point that I’m seeing. You have to be pretty blind to ignore some of this stuff. Racial perception is real, and no matter what class we’re in, it’d do us well to always remember that.

CJM April 5, 2011 - 5:23 PM

I know that every discussion cannot include everybody but Erika I’d like to add our dissociation from “rural”. For some reason people assume that two lane highways and rolling fields are lands of plenty. A person can be living in the middle of a corn field and still be in a food desert. I add that simply because many people still live in or are returning to rural areas of this country. My home is a rural area and the hoops that some, particularly the elderly, have to jump through to get a balanced meal on the plate are pretty astounding. Never mind carrying a sack of rice back on the bus, there is no bus. What good is public food assistance if the closest market to use it is 20 miles away and only accessible by car? Our farmers markets and roadside stands are now set up to take all forms of payment, from AMEX to SNAP to cash, but now they’re asking “why won’t people come?” So now people are looking at solutions that include regular and convenient transportation. That being said, these discussions are bubbling up and there will be a tipping point at which most (not just the few that do now) people will link obesity and overweight amongst people of color, rural people, poor people, urban people, and anyone else living in a food desert to access…I hope. The miles I put on my car and the money I spend to support local producers and my health are a shame, but I recognize that it is a blessing that I am able to do that and work to make it so that people don’t have to expend that type of resource for good eats.

Lee April 5, 2011 - 3:33 PM

#1, love the post title. #2, I am “disassociated” from the inner city, living a lower-middle-class suburban life, and I guess I’m just a little naive: I want folks to take some personal responsibility, but I also want the powers that be to recognize the inherent systematic problems (i.e. food deserts, school lunches, food stamp usage, etc.) and do something about it, too.

My dream would be that people would fix their food/dietary issues with common sense and hard work rather than with government intervention. But I think I’d rather the government intervene than watch generations of our people kill themselves with “food products”. I mean, do we really need the government to tell us that a diet of deep fried everything is unhealthy? Conversely, does the government think so little of us that a whole class of citizens are left to live off of laboratory food devoid of any real nutritional value? Soylent Green, anyone?

Erika Nicole Kendall April 5, 2011 - 5:35 PM

The problem with disassociation, in my opinion, is when one denies what you’ve referred to as “inherent systematic problems.”

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not firing shots at Blacks just because they’re “not poor.” That being said, I think there’s a difference between “I want people to take responsibility and also acknowledge these problems with the system” and “There ARE NO PROBLEMS WITH THE SYSTEM! LEAVE ME ALONE!”

Nichelle August 12, 2011 - 2:57 PM

In my opinion a person who considers themselves disassociated should look at this situation with a little empathy before injecting their “common sense”. For instance, if I have never ventured outside of my neighborhood let alone my city or state; then your “common sense” will be different from mine. If my school doesn’t have enough textbooks to give each student let alone one computer in every classroom; then how likely is it that I have taken a health or home economics class that teaches proper nutrition. If my family has lived on and loved fried foods for generations, how likely is it that my mother or grandmother even knows any other way to cook fish or chicken? If there are more liquor stores in my neighborhood than grocery stores and churches combined, and I can’t even get fresh fruit & veggies without traveling thirty minutes to an hour (one way); then how likely am I to have or be able to afford evoo, quinoa, or organic anything, let alone know what they are. Government intervention is needed for many things that we take as common knowledge or common sense because your “common sense” is not so common.

My July 27, 2012 - 2:39 PM

I wouldn’t be so quick to invite government into dictating anyones dietary needs. Government along with media has caused and created many of the problems. In many of the places where food deserts exist, a huge ridiculous number of fastfood chains thrive. Not to mention fried food shacks and mom/pop burger joints mostly owned by non-Blacks. Oddly enough there are very few soulfood restaurants in many of these communities and the positives of soulfood cooking have completely been trampled upon by media hype and racially bias govt health stats and induced introductions to ‘conservative’ dieting aka eating White. The common sense our grandmothers used to make sure we ate greens, cabbage, carrots, beets, okra, blackeyedpeas, butter/lima/kidney beans etc with a portion of meat and bread was never forgotten, however the disassociation has gone beyond class to the point that those most affected by food deserts will purposely choose fastfood to feel less impoverished by “default” because they’re Black. Can’t help but see this issue, the anti-ghetto naming rants and the little Black girls that choose white dolls over Black as one in the same.

Eva April 5, 2011 - 3:56 PM

This is a great article. I read one of the links and food deserts exist in all types of areas, not just the inner city, but in rural areas all over the country. There are people who don’t have cars, or public transportation to get to large grocery stores. In many communities (white and black) the neighborhood grocery store is a thing of the past and the larger stores are in the outskirts where you need a car to get to them.

When I visited my dad’s family in Georgia, it was 1979. At that time the downtown area, which was accessible either by public transit, bike or foot, had disappeared along with the strip malls. The reason for this were the brand new malls that were coming along. These places were only accessible if you had a car because even the buses didn’t go all the way there.

So what happens to people who don’t have cars, or can only afford one car? Where do they shop? What happens if your car breaks down and you can’t afford to fix it? What happens as the Boomers get older and many are no longer able to drive? What happens if the gas prices go up so high that people have to choose between going to work or going to the grocery store?

These are all cases for having more neighborhood grocery stores.

Fiqah April 5, 2011 - 6:24 PM

Erika, BRAVA! This discussion has become increasingly polar in the past decade or so – part of the reason why, as much as I love Michael Pollan, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” irritated me. So much nuance gets lost in black-or-white dialogue. Food deserts are a VERY real gray area; I see them here in Philly, and I saw them at home in Florida. Folks (like my mama’s middle-class Black neighbor AND my White working class housemate) growing their own food in their backyards are a gray area. The smartest person I know pointed out a coupla years back that the supposed social awareness of the “locally-grown, organic” rhetoric at farmer’s markets fell flat because most of those places don’t accept EBT. It is fully time to have this discussion.

Rooo October 25, 2012 - 6:27 PM

“The smartest person I know pointed out a coupla years back that the supposed social awareness of the “locally-grown, organic” rhetoric at farmer’s markets fell flat because most of those places don’t accept EBT. “

They’ve finally started to in some NYC farmers’ markets, though — after some of us raised particular hell about how racist (yeah, we said it) that ‘policy’ was.

But you’re right — it’s way past time this discussion was had/continued

mclicious April 6, 2011 - 12:15 AM

You’re so right. I wish more people acknowledged the cultural and socioeconomic factors in health, education, etc. Thanks for writing this. I got this link from Racialicious, and I must say I’ve been frantically reading everything else you have on your site. It’s really inspiring! So glad I’ve found it. It’s getting added to my bookmarks.

Qalil Little April 6, 2011 - 12:29 AM

Public outcry for accessible food is still 15 light years away. If Supersize Me did not get people thinking about the wisdom of eating McDonalds (or the countless other studies and documentaries done about beloved Mickey Dees) then either people do not understand healthy eating.

My friends and I have spent countless hours contemplating the constant rejection of factual information that streams to us from all directions, blaring horns warning us away from something, flashing lights and clanging bells.

I’m not sure what the solution is – I considered critical thinking skills, but decided against it – but I hope it comes soon otherwise the price of healthy food will continue to skyrocket at the whims of corporations that deliver it. 🙁

Sheri Davis-Faulkner April 7, 2011 - 1:17 PM

You are speaking to me right now because my research touches on this subject. What I have come to realize is that there is a deliberate strategy to keep the conversation focused on individual bodies and cultural food wars as a distraction from the corporate bodies that are racking in major dough on both ends of the spectrum. You are right, we must apply our cultural critiques to corporate entities i.e. the commercialized food industry, corporate mass media, and the privatized healthcare industry (weight loss as health care products) to actually address issues of intentional inaccessibility of “healthy lifestyling.” As long as the dominant cultural narrative focuses on scrutinizing individual’s bodies and family’s food decision-making (not choices) rather than corporate bodies and their unethical decision-making, we will continue to miss the opportunity to call for and recognize real change in our communities (poor, working class, youth, women, and of-color). Unhappy people are the best customers. Your voice and your work makes me happy. I believe your work helps to lift other black girls’ spirits and that this is key for making a real difference and for motivating us to address health care needs in a collective and healthy manner. Give thanks sis!

Max April 17, 2011 - 6:49 PM

I heard a story on NPR about the utter lack of fresh produce in West Oakland. I found it hard to believe that there simply were no grocery stores. Now I’ve just read this post, and I realize that I’ve never ever really given real condsideration to the distinction between making decisions and having choices. They are profoundly different. Thank you.

Jackie June 9, 2011 - 5:29 AM


I live in Oakland (near downtown) so I’m not too far from West Oakland. As far as I know, there’s no major chain supermarket (i.e. Safeway, Lucky) in that area. I did a quick Google search and found the Mandela Food Cooperative: http://www.mandelafoods.com/ and it looks like they’re working to address the need for good fresh food.

5.12.11 | The Thing with Tomatoes May 12, 2011 - 10:44 AM

[…] Latoya Peterson at Racialicious goes in on this stupid Fast Company piece on food stamps (although that title leaves something to be desired).   I’ve talked about banning soda before, but my opinion isn’t as resolute as it was before.  Peterson references this earlier Prospect piece, which I think missed out on several things) and the Black Girls’ Guide to Weight Loss post on “The Unbearable Whiteness of Eating“. […]

SB May 16, 2011 - 9:53 PM

I enjoyed this post. I can bring to mind a food desert right now. A grocery store in the Howard Park neighborhood of Baltimore shut down effectively eliminating the only full grocery store for at least 5 miles. 5 miles may not seem far, but that is IF you have a car or perhaps if you like to walk and manage to buy only a few bags worth of food. In our culture, we aren’t accustomed to walking miles for basics and we are often so pressed for time that it may not seem feasible… particularly if there’s a McDonald’s on the corner.

wickre May 20, 2011 - 1:28 AM

Thank you for writing an article about such an important and overlooked issue.

pretty yung thang June 20, 2011 - 12:50 AM

What pisses me off is there is NO health food stord in the black community, as if we don’t. Wanna eat or eat healthy…but mickey d’s and burger king are across the street from each other or some piss poor grocery store that sales over pump chicken for 1.50 a pound in the black area or town…I glad the Obamas are in office so ” White america can see not ALL black and hispanic ppl eat poorly and feed our kids bullshit, we are just as concerned with goin green as white ppl. We too live healthy life styles..now with being said I do wish more blks and hispanics get with the healthy eating and lifestyle.

Alasha August 12, 2011 - 9:17 PM

I think it depends on the city, and the culture of that city. When I was living in Newark, NJ, I lived in the hood, and I mean the HOOD. Less than a block away from my, was a health food store, right next to the barbershop I patronized, and it was always open, staffed, and well stocked with whatever I could think of. And amid the Chinese take-out spot, pizza and buger joints, there was also an Ital establishment, and a few Halal spots. I’d have to say that for Newark, the choices I had in my neighborhood are pretty typical throughout the city, probably due to the diversity of residents.

On the other hand, while I lived in Savannah, GA, the food choices there were the total opposite, but now as more people are thinking of the city as more than a tourist town and are making there homes there, there’s more diversity in the city, combined with people becoming more educated about their relationships with food, the choices are geting better. There’s still only one recognizable health food store, but a new CSA has cropped up, so I’m excited about that, in addition to the local farmer’s markets that have quietly always been there (although in the outskirts of the county rather than in the city).

I think you should find like minded people in your city and band together to fight for the businesses you’d like to see, or even better, join forces to do a co-op! Good luck !

Alasha August 12, 2011 - 9:24 PM

P.S. And if THAT don’t work, Grow your own! LOL I can’t see out my bathroom window because my tomato plants have overtaken the view, and cucumbers are viing all over my back porch, among other things. And I didn’t dig a single hole; all of my gardeing is in modified 5 gallon buckets, wastebaskets, and “tote” containers. Wheatgrass grows in my windowsills. If you can’t save a community, at least save yourself!

Lorrie October 6, 2011 - 4:03 PM

Oooooo Erika, you are touching a raw nerve here. Just to add to what you are saying here – Are you setting a precedent?…lol, The argument of choice IS what defines most policies in America. This very same argument can be applied to the Pro-choice movement….ouch! Did I say that? I doubt the priviledge of choice will ever be unraveled simply because it is a morally unethical priviledge, in America choice is independent of ethics or moral absolutes…if this can of worms is too much for this blog I understand if it is not posted. I can hear it now… “I have a right to be unhealthy if I choose, it is my body, what I do to it only affects me and it is my choice what I want my future to be, with or without unhealthy food.” Now replace the words “be unhealthy” with “have/not have a child” – chilling huh? The government will not pass a law reversing the priviledge or right of choice – conservative or not (unless it effects election polls). The funny thing is that usually conservatives like Palin would complain about poor unhealthy people over taxing/burdening the healthcare system. Recently one of the the republican presidential hopefuls even stated in a speech that we should let them die (poor uninsured sick people) since the economy is bad and the crowd cheered. Priviledged people simply want the choice it has nothing to do with whether it is right or not, so it is pointless to make sense of nonsense…lol

Lethal Astronaut March 22, 2012 - 7:43 PM

Thanks for another brilliant article. Again and again you remind me why I read this blog, even though I live in New Zealand.

Over here, fresh foods are a LOT more expensive than processed, and government estimates are that prices of fresh (real) food has risen 20% in the last two years – this, while we live in a country that produces and exports around the world!

One of the things we’re doing that has been really successful has been developing “locavore”movements (I’m an admin for “Dunedin Locavores”, on Facebook), where small farmers (like me) supply city families with chickens, we build coops, and grow and supply fruit trees. We’re also working to help people set up veggie plots, and are lobbying the councils (successfully!) for street trees that produce fruit and nuts, instead of just being decorative. And we’re creative databases of food producing trees that are locally and publicly accessible, and sharing affordable, easy healthy recipes.

But every year I see the cost of eating healthily become higher. I feel like we’re two steps forward, one step back. The only way I can see real progress happening is with changes to the taxation / food system, so the GST on real food is removed, and junk foods are taxed to counter the cost to health they cause.

Thanks again.

Young One October 25, 2012 - 9:39 AM

Erika, first I have to say I like your play on words of the title of this post from the Milan Kundera book…

Second…Food deserts totally exist in inner cities.
My husband and I just happen to live in one…downtown Cleveland.
It’s a perfect example, there is a glorified convenient store that has some produce not far, but it’s not always the best produce or at decent prices.

I will give the city credit because we do have a couple of farmers’ markets once or twice a week around downtown during the nice weather. I saw a sign that one of them even takes EBT. So it’s getting a little better. I know there are other areas of Cleveland that aren’t as fortunate.

Our area is still a food desert when we don’t have the farmer’s markets. We drive either to other parts of the city or the burbs on the weekend to go to the Whole Foods or other grocery stores.

The one thing I’ll have to say about the Whole Foods we go to, is diverse in terms of people. Not only in the employees but in the clientele as well. It’s really nice to see. It gives me hope that food choices are not a black and/or white issue, it’s a people issue.

Erika Nicole Kendall October 25, 2012 - 3:38 PM

Verrrrry few people got the title. I tip my had to you. 🙂

Pat Rice October 25, 2012 - 5:54 PM

Great reference in the title.
If anyone would like to see the largest food desert in America….come to Detroit. Sadly, there are no Chain-type grocery stores in the city limits. Yes, there are some smaller mom/pop types stores that charge exhorbitant prices ($1-3 for a tomato!). I live in one of the city’s ‘better’ neighborhoods but I must drive at least 6 miles north or south just to get groceries. If you don’t have transportation your choices are severely limited. In my city, the discussion goes far beyond food deserts and must involve improvement of public transportation, business revitalization and a soaring crime rate that makes retailers skittish about locating in the city. Erica you bring up many good points and a dialogue has been started; let’s hope we, as a community, can move from dialogue to action!

twerpy November 20, 2013 - 7:51 AM

A new Whole Foods store just opened up in midtown Detroit,and a new Meyers store (which had been in the planning stages for about 3 years or so) opened up a few months ago at Woodward and 8 Mile. So there are some choices for healthy eating, though it does depend on what part of the city you live in,your proximity to it, and whether you have access to decent transportation to even get you there or not. Plus, the urban gardening trend has taken off in a big way during the past decade here in certain areas of the D, and that’s been interesting & fun to watch.

And,yeah, organic food is really expensive to buy,mainly because it’s a niche market—besides the Aldi’s chain stores, there isn’t elsewhere you can who ,,

Sherron October 25, 2012 - 3:09 PM

I personally think that items such as chips, soda, candy, etc. & all other junk food that is unhealthy should NOT be purchased with food stamps (EBT/SNAP)

People who receive food stamps should NOT be allowed to use the food stamps to buy unhealthy crap. Fruit? yes….Vegetables? yes….Meat/Poultry/Seafood? yes…….Water? yes…..Rice/bread? yes…..and all other natural, healthy, real food? yes

but why should the government PAY for poor people to stuff themselves with “food” that causes them to be overweight, obese and creates PREVENTABLE problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, heart attack, death, etc.

I work full time and I do receive food stamps every month. I buy healthy food for my child and I cook so that we eat healthy meals. A snack is an apple and some carrot sticks or raisins, cheese and crackers in my home.

Razanon December 12, 2012 - 12:07 AM

LOVE this article. I live in Oakland CA and I am so tired of the myth that black people don’t, don’t know how to or never have culturally eaten well….All Lies!!!
Look at African food…that is the history and it is far healthier than the American diet!!! Trader Joes took years to open up here, why? Race demographics that’s why….but Hello… Revelation… when they open in an area where black people live…black people buy the food!!! When a farmers market opens up in Oakland, who shops there? Hello!!! black folks eating healthy all over town…ACCESS is critical…

Also have you seen the high fructose corn syrup PSA where the black woman tells the white woman, “it’s just corn”!? Classic manipulation of ConAgra food industry to keep selling us crappy food and giving everyone diabetes. It appears to me that recent immigrants eat healthier than most Americans who have been brainwashed by advertising. Healthy food should not be elitist or expensive….it is ALL of our history to eat well and needs to be our future.

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