Editorial Addresses Food Deserts and Food Fears

7/25/2017 1:22 PM

A recent editorial in Our Weekly, Los Angeles accurately clarified public health concerns about the accessibility of fruits and vegetables in food deserts.  As debate continues about our ever-evolving food system, among the points of the editorial:  “The goal shouldn’t be to make sure everyone has the luxury to buy designer lettuce grown on 14 different local organic farms…Rather, the goal should be to make sure fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available to those who need it most—people living in urban centers and rural outposts who don’t have easy access to grocery stores and affordable produce.”

Interesting point.  And, while most shoppers enjoy a wide range of organic and conventional produce choices in their grocery stores, club stores, farmers’ markets, home delivery meal services or restaurants, others are dealing with limited fruit and veggie options.  The editorial also makes these important points: 

  • “A major first step toward improving the health of people living in food deserts would be for the food elites and environmental community to stop promoting fear and shaming people for not eating organic fruits and vegetables, which should be noted are more expensive than conventionally grown produce.”
  • “A peer-reviewed study released in 2016 found that these organic-only campaigns push low-income people away from eating any fruits and vegetables—which is truly disturbing given that the Centers for Disease Control estimates that only one in 10 Americans eats the recommended amount of produce every day. “
  • Decades of nutritional research shows that increasing consumption of produce can improve health and prevent diseases, like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. For example, in a paper published in the journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, it was found that if half of Americans increased their consumption of a fruit and vegetables by a single serving per day, 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented annually.

If the last two points sound familiar, it is because they include science based information also carried by the Alliance for Food and Farming in its efforts to promote facts, not fears, so consumers can make the right shopping choices for themselves and their families. 

As this editorial astutely points out, to scare consumers away when produce choices are already limited, is unfair and detrimental to public health, especially when many who live in food deserts disproportionately suffer from health issues associated with poor diets.   

While the produce industry and those concerned about public health are working to address issues with food deserts and provide more produce choices, these efforts shouldn’t be undermined by inaccurate and fear based messaging designed to scare consumers.  Especially now that peer reviewed studies are showing that this tactic is ill-advised and may be negatively impacting consumers’ dietary decisions.

Read, learn, choose but eat more organic and conventional fruits and veggies for better health and a longer life.

Leave a Comment …