Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The myth of the food desert...

Today, as is my wont when I've a time to spend in Bradford without meetings, I wandered round John Street Market. It is a little sad to see some of the gaps appearing in the market - partly because some of the rag trade and fancy goods stalls have decanted to the emerging Asian bazaars and partly because it's a pretty tough time right now for retailers. However, there's still the food to marvel at - the row of butchers (now joined by a halal butcher to meet that demand), the fishmonger, the greengrocers, the spice stall and the stalls selling produce for the East European, African and Caribbean customers.

Yet we - by which I mean the well-off, middle classes - tell ourselves that there is something called a 'food desert'. A place peopled with the poor where there is inadequate access to fresh food and especially fruit and vegetables. It would appear that, in the nation where this idea was first invented, the USA, it is revealed to be a myth - especially the myth that this lack of 'good' food leads to obesity:

Such neighborhoods not only have more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than more affluent ones, but more grocery stores, supermarkets and full-service restaurants, too. And there is no relationship between the type of food being sold in a neighborhood and obesity among its children and adolescents.

Indeed this research tells us that:

Within a couple of miles of almost any urban neighborhood, “you can get basically any type of food"

Perhaps it's different here in Bradford? Somehow I doubt it - most of the City's poorest districts are within a short walk of the city centre where the wonderful John Street Market sits. And there are any number of corner shops, mini-markets and such - almost all selling fresh fruit and vegetables in abundance.

If people aren't eating fresh fruit and vegetables it isn't for lack of availability! And it certainly looks like there's not much of a link with obesity (although it defeats any logic for there to be such a link). Truth be told, the obesity problem is overstated by the assorted nannying fussbuckets who campaign on these things but such as it is, obesity is caused by choices people make rather than dysfunction within the market or the unfairness of society.

Rather than blaming society or seeking for a convenient business scapegoat, we should perhaps ask why it is that some people get so very fat. And try to help them with their problem rather than making up myths about obesity and its causes. To be pretty blunt, this study shows once again that obesity is not a public health problem but something that relates to the health (or ill-health) of individuals and the choices they make in their lives.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw this article today too and once again, the truth is - left to their own devices, individuals and businesses operated by individuals or by corporations owned by individuals are best left to make their own choices in life - in matters of not just food, but drink, smoke and everything else there is in life choices to be made - and in the long run, based on individual wants and needs, creation of markets to fill those needs, including what some morally might find either good or bad or else ugly - then everyone's needs will be met and obesity may or may not be an outcome, for some, who may choose certain types of food or diets without exercise - or for whom no fault of their own are simply heavier in weight, no choice to it. So again, the story nearly proves that government interference is not necessary nor should it even be wanted, other than all the propaganda constantly forced onto everyone to create a non-shakeable mirage in peoples' minds that somehow all of this nannying and bullying and collectivization efforts by government is desireable - when a free thinking mind would realize, as per this article, that it is not. They hide the truth behind lies built upon lies and result in making everyones' lives miserable for not allowing anyone the freedom to think and do on their own. And they make it systematic, including forcing taxes to pay for this sort of behaviour amongst our upper crust of idiotic false-gods passing themselves as "experts" - just because they are of the elite or political class to begin with.