Healthy Food Makes the Community Walkable

The accessibility of food in several neighborhoods in Chicago have become an area of concerning. A study conducted by Illinois Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights on food deserts suggest that “food deserts exist largely on the south and west sides of Chicago” (3). Food deserts are neighborhoods that have limited access to healthy food. This is an alarming problem because this issue is layered and affects out to multiple aspects of creating and sustaining a healthy community. A study conducted by Northwestern University reminds us that, “many health experts point to the importance of the availability of supermarkets, playgrounds and other environmental factors as key factor in reducing childhood obesity rates”(Paul 1). This problem affects us all; even Chicagoans fortunate enough to live in areas which offer healthy food choices on every corner.
Fixing this problem can be done with the help of a two-step system. The communities can start by creating a weekly farmers market. This immediately provides a way for members of the community to access locally grown vegetation efficiently and affordably. Furthermore, this plants the seed of community sustainability in the younger members of the community. It also opens up discussion for improving the community in other ways. The second step involves the introduction of healthy supermarkets such as Whole Foods and Mariano’s to the community. The supermarkets must understand that they are invested in the community, not simply the bottom line. These changes will alleviate many other problems associated with a lack of healthy food sources. The Changing Metabolism of Cities suggest that “understanding the flow of nutrients through the urban system is vital to successful nutrient management strategies and urban sustainability” (Cuddihy, Engel-Yan, Kennedy 54). Our politicians must be supportive of the corporations who chose to invest in the areas of our city that lack healthy food. This change will help lead the way for the new generation of children to believe and more importantly, be a part of the sustainability movement. Whole Foods’ co-chief executive, Walter Robb is correct when he vowed that the construction of a Whole Foods store in Englewood is “one of the most meaningful things we’ve done as a company”.

References

http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/IL-FoodDeserts-2011.pdf

https://us130urbansustainability.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/the-changing-metabolism-of-cities.pdf

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2014/11/14/why-whole-foods-is-moving-into-one-of-the-poorest-neighborhoods-in-chicago/

http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2011/08/healthy-chicago-neighborhoods.html

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4 thoughts on “Healthy Food Makes the Community Walkable

  1. I like your blog post. I looked at the lack of food and food insecurity in my blog and agree with your suggestions to fix the problem. Excellent point about the supermarkets investing in the community and not just the bottom line. Bringing availability of food to neighborhoods like Englewood could be great for setting a precedent for other neighborhoods.

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  2. Great post! I love hearing how others are attempting to tackle this issue. What road bumps do you think low income communities may face when attempting to establish a farmers market? Once the market is created how do we get community members to pay higher prices for less food? Residents of neighborhoods such as Englewood are used to buying huge 20-30lb watermelons for just a few dollars. However, an organic local watermelon from a sustainably certified farm in northern Illinois called Nichols Family Farms costs $3-4 and it is about 1/4th the size. I completely agree with you and your ideas about food accessibility but I am often frustrated by these underlying problems. What do we do?

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  3. I think is definitely a huge issue in urban areas. I like your idea about Famers’ Markets, and possibly integrating them into food deserts. However, most healthy food stores, like Whole Foods and Mariano’s, can be relatively expensive when compared to the median income of members of communities in food deserts, therefore, how can you incentivize expensive food stores to sell healthier food for less in these communities ?

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  4. I think the idea of more farmers markets in low-income areas is incredible. This is the link to the City of Chicago’s page on farmers markets.

    http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/farmersmarkets0.html

    You can look at a map or even go day by day. But farmers markets also only run from May-October, so this poses the question of what to do from November-April? During winter months people tend to exercise less and not get enough vitamins (i.e. Vitamin D), so it is especially important that they are eating good foods. Is Whole Foods the alternative? I agree with Whole Foods and you that putting these kinds of stores in places like Englewood is important, but I too, like the others am concerned with this being a bandage to the bigger problem. Yes, this may be in the Englewood, but who in Englewood can afford this food?

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