Are Leafy Greens the Next Civil Right?

January 20, 2014

Feel-gooders and foodicrats bemoaning the food desert “crisis” fail to take into account that, even in poverty-plagued, welfare wrecked urban neighborhoods, the free market is at work. If “Whole Foods” really had a viable market in an inner city burg, they would open a store.


I’m a desert rat. I grew up in Southern Utah, so I know a desert when I see one; red rocks, soaring sandstone spires, vast dune fields, rabbit brush, prickly pear cactus, collared lizards, and buzzards, lots of buzzards. Leave it to bleeding heart progs to try to convince Americans that the real deserts, the deserts that humans should really worry about, are urban neighborhoods that just don’t have enough of the right kinds of food available for people to properly exercise their civil rights of salads and whole grains. Yes, the latest fabrication from the Left is the “Food Desert,” and you’ve just begun to hear the caterwauling about how the root of problems in urban America is the “inaccessibility” of bright yellow root vegetables.

My parents are deceased, so I can divulge that they didn’t have a lot of money–they were also very proud–without getting clocked on the head. But in the winter time we ate preserved foods, lots of starches, and salted meats. During growing seasons we gorged on what we grew; tomatoes, peppers, turnips, parsnips, peas, squash, apricots, peaches, grapes, melons, etc. In the fall we ate game; venison, elk, antelope, whatever was bagged by my dad an brothers during that seasonal window. Our diet was very natural because, of necessity, it followed what was available. Beans, rice, potatoes and oatmeal were the only staples that were a constant. I’m sure the foodicrats at the USDA would frown on our repasts, but we grew up tall and pretty smart, all without government dictating what we should eat or bellyaching about what was missing from out diets.

Food Deserts are just the latest attempt by pro-nanny government leftists to command and control what goes into our mouths, forcing taxpayers to fund programs that compensate for those things they deem deficient. Here’s how the USDA defines food desert:

…a census tract with a substantial share of residents who live in low-income areas that have low levels of access to a grocery store or healthy, affordable food retail outlet. Using the census tract as a unit of analysis for identifying food deserts, USDA, Treasury and HHS will give funding priority to projects and interventions that establish healthy retail outlets in defined food deserts.

I won’t get into the bureaucratic weeds of how census counts and income statistics are used to designate this or that neighborhood a “food desert,” suffice it to say that welfare recipients stuck in urban blight centers in Democrat-run cities–all victims of big government–are deemed too stupid to know where to shop, what foods are good for them, and are incapable of taking the bus or walking ten blocks to the nearest Piggly Wiggly to use their EBT cards to pick up some leafy greens. Oh, I almost forgot, tackling the menace of food deserts with what will probably amount to billions of taxpayer dollars, is for the children.

Feel-gooders and foodicrats bemoaning the food desert “crisis” fail to take into account that, even in poverty-plagued, welfare wrecked urban neighborhoods, the free market is at work. If “Whole Foods” really had a viable market in an inner city burg, they would open a store. But convenience stores, ethnic grocers, and liquor stores are getting the customers as well as the dollars. Food deserts are a condition created by human habits, not cruel impositions of an indifferent society.

The flawed premises behind the “food desert” concept are, first; that there is a lack of equality in the grocery aisle because the poor simply cannot opt for fresh foods since they’re more expensive than the processed, canned, frozen, or fast foods. That’s a myth. Fresh produce fluctuates in price according to season and there are items which are always available and always inexpensive such as apples and bananas. The second part of that myth is that fresh is always better than frozen or canned. Vegetables and fruits retain much of their nutrients when properly processed, and many are fortified. There is no income inequality in the grocery aisle. In fact, Michelle Obama should hide her face in shame seeing how her expensive government fitness initiatives have utterly failed to convince people to eat right and exercise. It all comes down to preference and choice.

The second flawed premise is that the injustice of “food deserts” must be addressed through a redistribution of wealth into those neighborhoods which don’t currently support Whole Foods and Sprouts stores. Politicians, the USDA, and feel-gooder non-profits want to increase accessibility to healthy food through enticing grocers into urban neighborhoods (the market will do that if customers are present), creating “feeding sites” in such neighborhoods, providing educational materials, including signage and pamphlets in a variety of languages directing people where to find leafy green vegetables, and advocating for policies on the local, state, and federal levels that would bring equality to inner city food options–whatever the hell that means.

Just as Michelle Obama’s expensive “Let’s Move” initiative and healthy school lunch programs failed to address obesity and change the crappy habits of many Americans, so too will the “food deserts” movement fail to bring good food and healthy eating to people stuck in patterns of generational poverty and government dependence. You cannot weaken the notion of self-reliance without relieving the dependent of their sense of stewardship over their own lives and their own bodies.

If I had my way, I would gather the DC foodicrats at the USDA, and all the feel-gooder meddlers who think that government is the cure-all for human stupidity and bad choices, and take them on a little field trip to the real desert, say Canyonlands or the Escalante Primitive Area, send them out on their own for a day or two, and let them see how impotent government is to change reality, or feed them when harsh reality seeps in. Just a thought.

by Marjorie Haun  1/20/14

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