“Racism is a root cause of the social arrangements that allocate life to some and premature death to others.” – Dr. Arianna Planey
The health impacts in an areas where food sources are non-existent or extremely limited or costly leads to poor health outcomes. Research demonstrates a higher risk of heart attack and stroke, higher rates of diabetes and obesity, and other chronic diseases, and lower life expectancy. About 2.2 percent of US households live more than one mile from a grocery store and do not own a car (UDSA, 2009).
Ending food apartheid means we break the hierarchy of skin color and systems. We do this by leading change to cultivate a culture of health with sustainability around food sources, specifically on:
1) food proximity – a geographically-defined area in which good-quality fresh food is easily bought,
2) food availability – all people have consistent quantities of food, and
3) food affordability – having enough money to buy healthy food.
We must think differently about the community system of food sourcing, because we have to: areas identified as food deserts are a public health emergency and should be treated as such, especially as they were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Adding a new grocery store to a neighborhood is not enough to motivate individuals to shop for healthier foods; it never will be. When we aim for equity, we ensure the right system of food sourcing and networks that meets the community’s needs.
For More Information:
- NPR PODCAST: Honoring Your Heritage — And Improving Your Health — Through Food
- Association Between Living in Food Deserts and Cardiovascular Risk
- Studies Question the Pairing of Food Deserts and Obesity
- Food Insecurity, Food “Deserts,” and Glycemic Control in Patients With Diabetes: A Longitudinal Analysis
- Food Deserts and Overweight Schoolchildren: Evidence from Pennsylvania*
- Is obesity a manifestation of systemic racism? A ten‐point strategy for study and intervention
- Food Insecurity and Obesity in US Adolescents: A Population-Based Analysis