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August 04, 2011

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It is difficult for middle class suburbanites to understand the issues of food security for the inner city poor. I live in an affluent suburb of 35,000 with 2 Super Stop & Shops, a Whole Foods, numerous farms with farm stands, two small independent grocers and a ShopRite on the town line. If I'm lucky to find Jerry's prices locally, I am also fortunate to own a car & can afford $4 a gallon gas to drive to the store & load my trunk several times a week. My inner-city Hartford, CT neighbors, a third of whom live in poverty and a mere 20 minutes away, can't afford cars and must take a long bus ride with numerous transfers to reach a store that stocks fruits & vegetables. Then they can only purchase what can be carried on the long bus trip back home. The reality of their lives, between working and raising their families, is canned or boxed processed foods, bought at the local bodega type store for double or triple the price. Statistics, tabulated without context or reference, are often meaningless.

For those of us who have read eat to live, we know greens are the highest in nutrients. A bag of chopped fresh or frozen greens is a couple bucks at most. You can get these at whole foods, wal mart, Safeway, etc.

One needs to be a smart shopper. There are always deals on produce at every store out there. When was the last time you were in a store and something wasn't on sale?

I have to wonder if these figures only
apply to non-organically raised produce.

I believe food prices have significantly increased concomitantly with fuel costs in 2011 to the point that those cents per serving are obsolete at this point. I am in agreement with the previous comment also: the costs of better nutrition are less easily borne by the more impoverished, especially those on fixed incomes. However, produce is also only part--though a necessary, critical part--of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Whole grains, legumes (check out how a bag of dried legumes is now more than $1.00 per pkg), a dozen eggs from cage-free hens (avg. $3-$5), and especially grass-fed meat and dairy can be quite difficult to afford on a limited income. A gallon of raw (unpasteurized) Jersey milk at a local farm costs $7.50 (the going rate). And, sure, we can all walk more to get exercise, but if you want to weight-train or do yoga, etc., that usually has a cost too. I am sharing all this as someone who would forgo almost every other expense to obtain high-quality food and who is presently on a fixed income. A walk through the neighborhood health store should speak more clearly about these costs--and now, ironically, even with a strong effort to obtain organic, non-GMO, and even local products, we all ideally still need to use supplements to make up for the lacks in the nutritional density of food, which has diminished in recent decades. I believe it is time for a reassessment of the true accessibility of a healthy diet for the average American, but even more important, a reeducation of the connection between food and lifestyle choices to optimum health and a disengagement of greedy big Pharma from imposing its pharmacopeia over a deceived population, especially those over 50. Wake up, America!--let's take responsibility for our health!

Well said, Elise. I also always wonder when I read statistics like these, where the information is coming from. I have lived in Illinois, New England, and rural Iowa and shopped at Whole Foods type stores as well as regular grocery stores. I have never seen prices like these cited! At the peak of peach season recently, the best price for peaches I could find was $.99/lb., which I paid happily. Nevertheless, this gives an average peach price (incl. pit) of $.35-.40 each. And this is the lowest price I ever pay. I could say similarly for pineapple, summer squash, bananas, etc. Where are the prices quoted coming from? Reduced-price produce? Canned goods?

The are serious problems with access to healthy, high quality foods in inner-city and impoverished urban areas. Aside from the increasing number of studies being done, a visit to a "grocery" store in these areas (if one exists) will tell the tale. The lettuce may be $.28 a serving, but is often in poor quality or in low quantity. Please don't confuse the real disparity of food access for the poor and the questions of affordability for the middle class. Also, do not forget to question the quality that comes with the affordable prices mentioned above. With that said, I think this website should stick with information about powerful foods, and not take on the social issues of food access.

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