Are People Fat Because They Live in “Food Deserts?”
Once something is repeated enough, people begin to believe it is the gospel truth.
So it is with the idea that Los Angeles has some neighborhoods, mostly poor, where only “bad food” choices are available.
Received wisdom, along with governmental and non-profit studies, have now pronounced that obesity is unavoidable in these places.
Patt Morrison on KPCC has devoted a show to highlight this new “problem” where a lack of fresh produce and fresh food somehow is responsible for overeating and malnutrition.
As a photographer who has worked to photograph restaurants where calorie counts are now posted, and as a person who tries to eat healthy and exercise, do I agree that the rarity of fresh produce somehow leads to obesity?
I do not.
People eat the way they eat, not because of choice, but due to a number of factors, one of which is what they choose to eat.
For example, I live within walking distance of Fatburger, McDonalds, two donut shops, several bakeries, Taco Bell, Carls Jr, Lido Pizza and El Pollo Loco. I never eat in any of these places.
I am on a budget. I have been looking for work. I’m not rich. And I don’t eat crap.
Liberal thinkers, experts, and sociologists are forever portraying poor people as passive. In the manufactured outrage directed at society, blame is placed on forces that somehow compel people to behave. So it is with “food deserts” the unlucky victims who live in them must make do with fat, sugar and processed food. Because they live on the Moon?
Once upon a time, poor people had gardens in their backyards. Now LA may lack for many things, but backyards are not one of them. It takes effort to plant, some effort to cook, but it can be done.
The other fallacy advanced in the “food desert” theory is that people will make the right choices if presented with the right foods.
On trips to the Asian 99 Ranch Market, I often look inside the shopping carts of customers in the checkout line.
What I see is that white customers will load up their baskets with baked goods, ice cream, breads, beer and frozen foods.
And the Asian shopping carts will be full of fresh green vegetables.
Same choices and different outcomes.
We don’t live in food deserts. We live in deserts of the mind where we choose to think or we choose to not think.
That’s what I think.