The high costs of being poor
current mood: sleepy
One thing that has always bothered me about stores like Whole Foods and other stores that focus on healthy or organic foods is that so many people are unable to afford to shop there. Perhaps it is simply another manifestation of some of my socialistic tendencies that I've always believed that healthy, wholesome food should be available to everyone.
But in many places, the problem for the poor is not simply a lack of funds to shop at Whole Foods--a problem which could theoretically be solved by increasing funding for programs like food stamps. In many cases, though, the problem is a lack of stores in poor neighborhoods, so that even if there was money available, there would be nowhere to spend it on healthy food. Often, the only options available in poorer neighborhoods are liquor stores and corner convenience stores, which, in addition to being more expensive than supermarkets, are more known for alcohol and junk food than milk and bread and fresh fruits.
One telling statistics: Out of the three top grocery chains in southern California, there are only 6 supermarkets to serve a population of 688,000 in South Los Angeles while in West Los Angeles, there are 19 supermarkets to serve a population of 395,000.
The result is that poor communities are hit hard by obesity, alcoholism, diabetes, and other serious health problems. There is a growing body of research that also indicates that the additives in junk foods may contribute to hyperactivity and other problems in children and teenagers, causing them to be less likely to succeed in school. And naturally, all of these health problems are hitting people who are far less likely to have insurance and access to quality medical care. Thus, a vicious cycle of poverty and desperation spirals ever more out of control.