behavior · community · health

Obesity crisis: Does a lack of grocery stores make poor neighborhoods fatter? | OregonLive

Kaassouffle
Image via Wikipedia

Interesting follow-up article to a post I linked to earlier this week about people creating “food corridors” in Olympia, WA; according to this study, simply installing grocery stores “oases” doesn’t solve the problem:

There was never much hard science linking the obesity epidemic to so-called food deserts – inner city neighborhoods lacking stores selling fresh produce. One of the largest relevant studies, published July 11, found that having a nearby supermarket or grocery made no difference in the amount of fruits and vegetables people ate or the overall quality of their diets.

Being surrounded by fast food restaurants was linked to more frequent fast food dining – but only among low-income men. In that group, a 1 percent increase in the number of nearby fast food outlets appeared to increase the number of weekly fast food meals by 0.13 percent to 0.34 percent. That’s not a huge difference, but the researchers concluded that their findings “provide some evidence for zoning restrictions on fast food restaurants.”

Study author Penny Gordon-Larsen, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Reuters Health that researchers need to do more work to understand how people make decisions about what to eat, and that improving eating habits is likely to require broad efforts including community education.

“It’s not simply enough to introduce a grocery store,” she said…

In more bluntly stated commentary, the Economist asserts that the focus on food retailers may be misguided: “Open a full-service supermarket in a food desert and shoppers tend to buy the same artery-clogging junk food as before–they just pay less for it. The unpalatable truth seems to be that some Americans simply do not care to eat a balanced diet, while others, increasingly, cannot afford to.”

more via Obesity crisis: Does a lack of grocery stores make poor neighborhoods fatter? | OregonLive.com.

I think the Economist may have a point; if people are used to eating a certain way, and don’t understand the value of eating fresh fruits and veggies over cheaper-less-healthful foods, then they won’t stop buying soda and chips, mainly because they are usually cheaper and taste better stronger.

community · culture · health · Social

‘Food corridor’ brings urban neighbors together – The Olympian

Hochbeet
Raised beds using concrete blocks. Image via Wikipedia

For the past couple of years people have been discussing the idea of “food deserts” in urban areas where there are no groceries or places for people to purchase fresh veggies and meat. This is an interesting concept of how to address that: a food corridor in Olympia, WA.

The commons is a collection of gardens, pathways, landscapes and building demonstration projects under the stewardship of the Fertile Ground Community Center and the South Sound Chapter of the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild. Together, they take up half a city block and include the guild headquarters known as EcoHouse, the Fertile Ground Community Center and the Fertile Ground Guesthouse, a bed-and-breakfast owned and operated by Karen Nelson and Gail O’Sullivan.

If chickens aren’t your thing, you’re welcome to pick a handful of fruits and berries — everything from Asian pears and Cascade cherries to golden raspberries and strawberries — growing along the sidewalk.

The community invitation extends into the garden where flowers, vegetables and herbs grow in raised beds built out of recycled wood and tree limbs.

more via ‘Food corridor’ brings urban neighbors together – Soundings – The Olympian – Olympia, Washington news, weather and sports.

I’m interested to see how this might manifest in other places, particularly those where it’s less common already to have chickens in backyards and use the front strip of grass in your yard as a raised bed. During World War II people had “Victory” gardens in containers on their front stoops, so it’s definitely doable to grow things even in the most compacted urban spaces, but it seems like the biggest hurdle is acceptance, so what could possibly be done to raise acceptance of backyard broccoli? Ideas?