The Kitchen Think: We Can’t Give Up


This is a bit disheartening. Seems that putting supermarkets in low income neighborhoods that have so-called “food deserts” doesn’t really improve the health or diet of the people who live there.

Fast food wins again.

According to a 15-year study of select food deserts, people didn’t eat more fruits and vegetables just because they were readily available. Instead, they opted for what was easy, tasted good and cheap… processed high-sodium fattening foods in the supermarkets and deep-fried ready to eat fast food.

This really bothers me because I’ve long advocated building supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods in the apparently mistaken belief that people would actually eat better. I really thought that by limiting the number of fast-food joints in an area, people might try to eat healthier, eventually lowering the obesity rate. I failed to take into consideration the high cost of better nutrition and life long habits.

The study focused on more than 5,000 people in Chicago, Minneapolis, Oakland, California and Birmingham, Alabama. It concluded that the primary factors influencing food choice decisions are income and easy access to fast food.

Previous research had indicated that the reason people living near fast-food restaurants ate so much crap was because there were no “healthy” alternatives. Today’s report seems to say that even if there is an option, like a supermarket filled with lean meats, low-fat dairy products and fruits and vegetables, people will still gravitate to what they know and what they like: fried food, chips and sugary soda.

Low cost food. High cost calories.

I still believe that education is the key. We can’t expect to undo decades of bad eating habits and poor nutrition by simply erecting a shiny new supermarket oasis in these food deserts. We need to reach the children living in these neighborhoods and teach them that good-for-you food can also be delicious, easy to make and inexpensive.

This study seems to indicate that this is going to be an uphill struggle. But we can’t give up. I won’t give up. After all, there are millions of lives literally, hanging in the balance.


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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: