“Food Deserts” Are Not Making Us Fat, Slow And Dead

farmersmarketpeppersContrary to the perceived wisdom of the past many years, it’s not the lack of fresh, healthy food in America’s “food deserts” that’s making people obese and shortening their lives, it’s just being poor.

Slate ignored the hype and took a look at the numbers. Here’s the nut of what they discovered:

It’s easy to understand why Michelle Obama and other influential figures have promoted fresh food initiatives: Bringing a bounty of fresh produce to impoverished “food deserts” is a lovely idea. But the idea isn’t borne out by evidence. Study after study has shown that the fresh-food push does nothing to improve the health of poor people, who continue to live markedly shorter and sicker lives than better-off Americans.

Beautiful, right? A classic example of the silver bullet solution turning out to be not all it’s cracked up to be. But this should come as a surprise to precisely no one because, unless you’re dealing with werewolves, the silver bullet solution is almost never all its cracked up to be. We’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to improve access to fresh produce in some of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods while, at the same time, funding for the food stamp program has been cut. Bringing kale and artisinal radishes to impoverished neighborhoods no doubt improved a few people’s salads, but the reasons why folks end up at the McDonald’s drive-thru are far more complex than just having no other options.

Anyway, Slate did a nice job detailing exactly how our good intentions went all wrong. You should check it out.

Food Deserts Aren’t The Problem [Slate]


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