The concept of “food deserts” in a country like Somalia, or Haiti would be interpreted to mean “no food”, but in the U.S. it means an area that has no access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead, what those communities have are processed, and fast foods, devoid of the nutritional elements that make the body function properly, and allows the brain to work efficiently.
Children as young as 5 years old are also affected, measuring poorly in terms school performance, which adds to a cycle of poverty. The health risks of living in a food desert or living on high calorie, high fat processed foods include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type II Diabetes and other diet-related illnesses
- Behavioral problems
- Poor concentration
10 of Many U.S. Foods Deserts Void of Healthy Food
Over 23 million Americans — including 6.5 million children live in food deserts.
- Duwamish River, Seattle – some citizens fish in polluted waters for subsistence.
- Lower 9th Ward, New Orleans – Hurricane Katrina added to the problem, but independent local initiatives like Our School at Blair Grocery have raised the profile of urban farming to provide access to healthy food via a neighborhood afterschool program that aims to develop sustainable thinking!
- Minneapolis and St. Pauls – They have increased farmers markets to alleviate the problem
- South and West Side of Chicago where most of the half million citizens are mostly African-American more urban farming is needed to reverse the problem
- Atlanta, Georgia – where those on high income have access, and those on low income do not. The Atlanta Food Initiative is trying to address this problem
- Hunter’s Point, Bayview, Visitacion Valley, Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco – supermarket chains refuse to locate there because they are historically poor, black neighborhoods.
- Memphis – used to have food banks, and grocery stores. Farmers markets have been helping to alleviate the problem
- Detroit – 550,000 people live in food deserts, and have earned the rating of being the world’s number one consumer of crisps/potato chips, but little effort is made to establish farmer’s markets and urban farming which would help address the problem
- East of New York – trying to improve transportation, and to establish farmer’s markets to address the problem
- Camden, New Jersey has only one supermarket. A mobile market has been organized by the New Jersey Community of Affairs
Increasingly, ordinary people have taken their food security into their own hands through urban farming/agriculture, and food cooperatives/initiatives. These initiatives should be supported and encouraged by local and national officials, especially at a time when the food industry is more interested in profits than providing food has God intended.