What is a food desert?
“Food deserts” are geographic areas where access to affordable, healthy food options (i.e. fresh fruits and veggies) is limited or nonexistent because grocery stores are located too far away. Food deserts may be under-reported because the North American Industry Classification System places small corner grocery stores (which often primarily sell packaged food) in the same category as grocery stores like Kroger and Whole Foods.
Individuals living in the lowest SES (social-economic status) areas have 2.5 times the exposure to fast-food restaurants as those living in wealthier areas. Many people living in food deserts depend on fast-food restaurants for their meals. Food insecurity has a high correlation with increased diabetes rates. In Chicago, the death rate from diabetes in a food desert is twice that of areas with access to grocery stores. Even our government has recognized this crisis. First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign to fight childhood obesity has a goal to eradicate food deserts by 2017. An investment of $400 million has been dedicated toward this initiative, which will provide tax breaks for supermarkets that open in food deserts.
Want to get involved? Check out A Place at the Table documentary and website.
Do you live in a food desert?
Even in Cincinnati, there are communities who don’t have access to healthy food. If you have ever been in the Kroger located in Over-The-Rhine, you know what I am talking about. Their produce section alone is quite abysmal, yet this is the only option available for some people to have healthy food.
All is not lost though. We have fantastic options in our local area as well as national companies that can deliver food right to your door. Food delivery services have been trending the last few years with a marked increase in activity and availability in almost every major city. There is NO excuse not to healthy anymore. The biggest critique is the cost of these services. However, try adding up the time it takes for you to make your grocery list, find recipes, and drive to the supermarket. These companies have already done all the hard work for you and often have nutritionists and doctors making sure you get a balanced, nutritious meal.
It can also eliminate food waste which is another huge issue in our country. Although we often have the best intentions, many times our unused and rotted produce ends up in the trash. Most of these services leave you with enough leftovers for lunch the next day plus you aren’t wasting food!
The other benefit is preventing recipe fatigue. We often end up making the same 4-6 dishes which can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Exposing your palate to new vegetables and recipes can increase your confidence in the kitchen and make you healthier at the same time.
FOOD DELIVERY OPTIONS
Green Bean Delivery – Free delivery of organic produce and natural groceries. Multiple bin options available depending on family size. Get delivery to your home or work.
HealthSavor – Organic, meal delivery service with gluten-free and vegetarian options. They also have a wonderful catering service for your next office lunch.
Plated – One of the first meal delivery services they offer flexible subscriptions and the ability to filter meals based on your preferences (gluten-free, vegetarian). No commitment required. Ingredients are pre-measured to eliminate food waste. Excellent recipe cards in case you want to make a recipe again.
Purple Carrot – If you are vegan or want to try a plant-based diet, this service is for you. Co-founded by Mark Bittman, a NYT columnist and food advocate. Options for family or a 2-person household.
Factor 75 – The 75 comes from the notion that “75% of your fitness comes from what you eat”. All dishes on the rotating daily menu are organic and hormone-, gluten-, soy-, and GMO-free.
Daily Harvest – Like smoothies but no time to prepare? They deliver organic frozen, pre-measured, and ready-to-blend whole ingredient smoothies with superfood add-ons in delicious combinations.
GoodBites – Raw and organic superfood snacks for when you need a little extra boost. Sign up for a personal subscription or get an office box!
Thrive Market – Eating healthy does not have to be expensive. Thrive is like a Costco for healthy food. It’s organic, non-GMO products that you probably already buy at deeply discounted prices. There is an annual subscription fee but most people will save much more with regular use.
Have you tried one of these services already? Let us know what you think in the comment section below!
United States Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. “Access to Affordable and Nutritious Food: Measuring and Understanding Food Deserts and Their Consequences.” United States Department of Agriculture, 2009.
White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity. “Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity in a Generation.” 2010.
Yeh, Ming-Chen and David L. Katz. “Food, Nutrition, and the Health of Urban Populations.” In Cities and the Health of the Public, 2006.