Yesterday I continued an ongoing discussion with Janis Jibrin, a good friend and the lead nutritionist for Bob Greene's Best Life Diet. Janis initially got me involved in the Best Life Diet. Since I started working with her on this project we have had endless conversations about the difficulty of finding fresh produce and basic ingredients in many parts of the country.
Ideally the problem of obesity and diabetes should be dealt with on the front end eliminating the need for prescription on the back end... If fast and convenience foods are the only food choices available there is no opportunity to experiment with raw ingredients or at least choose what we enjoy and not be told what we enjoy.
I rely on a mesh work of mediocre and high end grocery stores, fantastic farm markets, a CSA, specialty stores and my own garden for food. These resources are not distributed equitably throughout the city. Even two separate stores of the same grocery chain do not necessarily offer equal quality produce in two different neighborhoods. Relative to other parts of the country such as Detroit the situation in DC is not dire. I know that in some parts of the country none of these options for are available.
Of course the goal in making fresh food available is ultimately improving health. The Green Carts program in New York City and Will Allen's urban farming projects open opportunities to encounter raw ingredients in areas that were previously food deserts.
I wonder why in every neighborhood in New York there are bodegas selling fresh fruit and vegetables while in other urban and rural areas produce is scarce. The issues may be one of culture more than anything--when school systems ban home baked goods in response to wide spread peanut allergies (instead of asking for things baked at home for school consumption to be free of peanuts) we should read this as a sign that our culture privileges corporations and their food over individually produced food and our own choices.