Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Will Poor People Buy Healthier Food If They Can?

There certainly is more to eliminating food deserts in areas where healthy food is not readily available to residents in a neighborhood. Urban areas where affordable or good, higher quality fresh food is difficult to buy doesn't always equate to poorer people becoming "instantly healthier" merely because they have a higher quality grocery store in the neighborhood.

Yes, many people in underserved neighborhoods want to know that the food they purchase for their families and themselves is good, but how can they all know what foods are better and more nutritious for them when they haven't typically bought their food that way? There are several issues to consider for many people -- not just poorer people -- with regard to changing the way they buy food and the food marketers of America who don't make it easier for them to do so. For one, junk foods or processed foods are typically much cheaper and more abundant than say fresh fruits and vegetables and for another, for those on budgets, it is much easier to justify buying what's on sale as opposed to buying what is in season.

In reading the following article, it becomes clear that food preferences are strongly part of the way that people -- poor people or not -- buy their food too. The focus falls more strongly on poor people because clearly food is harder to afford and than there is also the education-piece of the puzzle. Much to the disappointment of what adds to the long-standing obesity rates seen in this country is the lack of poorer people not having a full-scope view of what processed foods do to their bodies. Additionally, processed foods are more addictive and more than likely more "palatable" to those with children because they've been trained to like these foods that are familiar to them. 

A powerful statement from the article states that, "If people can't afford healthier foods, then it would be reasonable to think that just giving them a better store wouldn't solve their problems. But, the education of shoppers is more predictive than their incomes. Poorer families bought less healthy food than richer ones. But, a bigger gap was found between families with or without a college education. Those results suggest that improving people's diets will require both making food accessible and affordable and also changing people's perceptions and habits about diet and health".

To read more about food deserts, learn more about them from the food empowerment project

To learn more about the power of habit and why habits can be so difficult to change, particularly when it comes to perceptions of diet and health, check out how Changing Habits, Not Just Diets is so important to understand.

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