It’s hard to think about living without healthy essentials, but for some, this is a harsh reality.
What exactly is a food desert? Is it a desert full of food? We wish, but no–sadly, it’s quite the opposite. The US Department of Agriculture reports that 39 million Americans live in urban communities where at least 1/3 of the community live more than a mile away from large grocery stores or supermarkets. This also affects rural communities to a heightened degree.
In a Marketplace interview, the founder and director of the Food Empowerment Project, Lauren Ornelas, expanded further on this problem. The markets that are available in some areas don’t always have the best options or viable access to fruits and veggies. Ornelas gave an example of communities where even freezer sections contained less frozen vegetables compared to other items like pizza and ice cream.
Short on Food and Short on Time
Some areas might not only be short on food, but communities can be short on time. This means that they might not have time to seek out different stores that offer better options.
Not only that, but it takes time to eat healthy. This means prepping, cooking and ensuring proper after-storage for food. Some people just don’t have the time.
We all know there’s only so much time in the day, and we have to fit in our jobs, families, friends and other responsibilities, too. Day-to-day management can be difficult to balance, which is why many people resort to eating fast food or quick microwavable meals that are readily available. Unfortunately, those aren’t always good for us.
And the more time we spend away from veggies and fruits can be detrimental to our overall eating habits in the future.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
According to recent research published by Montana State University, access to high-quality fruits and veggies “strongly influences” whether a person eats healthier for each meal. The study suggests that less access to “quality” fruits and veggies leads to less desirability for them in the future.
According to a co-author of the study, it’s hard for Americans to consume the 5 to 13 recommended servings of fruits and veggies if they’ve already marked those foods as undesirable due to unavailability.