Life in the Desert

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Have you heard the news? It’s exciting! Whole Foods Market is set to open a store on Chicago’s south side in the Englewood neighborhood.  For those of you who are not familiar with the area, Englewood is an impoverished, high crime area of the city that is also considered to be a food desert.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention a food desert is defined as “areas that lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet.”  These areas are also characterized by an inversely high number of fast food restaurants and other sources of high fat and processed foods (think convenient stores and gas stations).  As hard as it is for many of us to truly understand, millions of Americans, the majority of which are Black and Hispanic, currently live in food deserts.  Whole Foods Market, a company that is committed to bringing healthier food to the world, is putting its money where its mouth is and I’m a huge fan!  Unfortunately, all food corporations are not nearly as concerned about the public good as Whole Foods Market

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Recently, I have partnered with an organization called Corporate Accountability International, which is dedicated to protecting and empowering consumers against large food corporations intent on misleading the public about their products.  Corporate Accountability International is a “recognized leader in the corporate accountability movement”  and continues its crusade to stop these corporations from manipulating the public.  In an effort to disseminate information regarding unfair marketing and advertising practices, Corporate Accountability International has partnered with Food Myth Busters, and its creator,  Anna Lappe, to get the word out about aggressive marketing tactics, specifically toward children and teens.

On September 25th, Food Myth Busters will be releasing its new film that busts myths about our industrial food system.  You can go here to watch a teaser and to RSVP to be one of the first to see the film.  I highly recommend that you sign up to watch.  After viewing a video of Anna Lappe presenting at TEDx (see it here, scroll down the page), I was floored, as in disgusted, by some of the information that was shared about what we eat and how it’s marketed.  Floored, but not surprised, which only pushed me to further distance myself from fast food restaurants.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Lisa, you are the parent, so you control what your child eats.”  To a certain extent, that is a true statement, but, let’s be honest; with our busy lives how many of us have stopped off at fast food restaurants on the way to and from activities to pick up a quick dinner?  Or, how many times have you been worn down by your preschooler to get a certain children’s meal because of the toy that’s being offered?  I have, many times. Not to mention, that as our children get older, they are with us a lot less. They’re hanging with their friends after school or on the weekends and parents have no idea what they’re eating.  Ironically, neither do they because they don’t really know what goes into the food they are buying.  Do yourself and your kids a favor and watch this movie with your pre-teens and teenagers.  Give them some food for thought, so to speak.

Most of all, I find it repugnant that corporations would prey on impoverished and sometimes uneducated residents in under served communities.  It is no accident that in these areas known as food deserts there are at least twice as many fast food restaurants as there are farmers markets, grocers and other avenues to obtain healthy foods.  This is shameful and must be stopped.  I want to leave you with an article that I came across entitled Seven Food Desert Myths that really sheds some light on addressing this issue.  Pay close attention to a personal narrative by a fellow blogger, Latoya Peterson, over at Racialicious that serves as a powerful reminder that all of us do not live the same life, but we all at one time or another need an advocate.

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