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I am a mommy, scribe, and middle-school English teacher. I am trying to cope with being separated from my beloved. DoUWantMore? email me: theprisonerswife@gmail.com

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I Want You to Be Fat

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:23 AM

well, it's settled...it's a conspiracy to keep you fat.

That’s what University of Washington researchers found when they compared the prices of 370 foods sold at supermarkets in the Seattle area. Calorie for calorie, junk foods not only cost less than fruits and vegetables, but junk food prices also are less likely to rise as a result of inflation. The findings, reported in the current issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, may help explain why the highest rates of obesity are seen among people in lower-income groups (more).

stroll any supermarket & bodega around the country and you'll probably notice that fruits and vegetables cost disproportionately more than junk food. yesterday i hit the grocery store in search of a few healthy items: fruit, veggies, boca products, and my wallet took a hit. my total? nearly $70, spent on two lonely bags of groceries. ouch.

(this is what $70 looks like)

i have always speculated that eating out is actually cheaper than cooking (notice how i didn't say healthier). i know, i'm going against all of the budget crunchers out there, but each time i go to the grocery store i feel like i've been stuck-up. i come home with a few bags, and a whole lot less money. it just doesn't seem to make sense.

no wonder we are fat.

in stiff economic times like these, people are forced to feed their families at the expense of their health. people must choose between $9 chicken breasts or $3 ground beef. it's a no brainer if you're broke and your kids are hungry.

the high cost of food, and the lack of high-quality foods in many communities, also makes me think about the obesity rates in inner city communities. is it a coincidence that the communities that have the least money to spend are oft times the fattest?

a study published in the Pediatric News tackled the issue of obesity rates in inner city kids in East Harlem, NY. the study found that kids were inundated by bodegas (corner stores) and fast food joints, but had little access to stores that carried fresh fruits and vegetables.

Proximity and prevalence of these convenience stores, known as bodegas in Spanish, turn out to be an accurate predictor of body weight and waist-to-hip ratio in East Harlem children, according to Dr. Maida P. Galvez of the center for children's environmental health and disease prevention research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. The wide availability of junk food and the relative dearth of fresh healthy foods go a long way toward explaining the rampant obesity and diabetes in this largely poor Hispanic and African American neighborhood.

...In the neighborhood as a whole, there were 10 supermarkets and 9 grocery stores, but 182 bodegas. The latter typically sell predominantly high-fat, high-sugar packaged foods, and very little fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, or other healthy foods.(more)

while this study was conducted in Harlem, it can be easily replicated in Watts, Chicago, DC, or any other major American urban city. the startling thing about this to me is that we are killing our kids. a lot of times we blame parents for not cooking the right foods or setting bad examples for kids, but we fail to take a look at the system that isn't set up equitably.

as a child growing up in South-Central Los Angeles, i distinctly remember our local grocery store. the fruits always seemed dented and a little too ripe, the meats were a mixed bag, but there were isles of tasty, sugary, fatty treats. when my mother ventured out of our neighborhood to shop, we saw a stark contrast in the quality of food offered in more affluent neighborhoods. these neighborhoods had bustling produce departments, brimming with colorful fruit and vegetables, some of which i'd never even seen before. they had a bakery department that severed FRESH breads, and the meat didn't look funny at all. at 11, the disparities were apparent to me and it didn't seem right. even though i was young i knew that having access to GOOD foods shouldn't be a privilege, it should be a right.

12 Response to 'I Want You to Be Fat'

  1. Mary-Laure Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-want-you-to-be-fat.html?showComment=1215544020000#c4758184436984477156'> Tuesday, July 08, 2008 12:07:00 PM

    I soooooo agree with you, good food should be available to all. It's such a genuine public health problem. As long as the agri-business lobby remains powerful in Washington DC, nothing will change...


  2. CapCity Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-want-you-to-be-fat.html?showComment=1215557040000#c7716946294853065657'> Tuesday, July 08, 2008 3:44:00 PM

    TELL it!! When I cringe & spending on healthy foods I remind myself that I'll pay less for it at the hospital later;-). But, that immediate hit to the wallet IZ a mutha!


  3. Lovebabz Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-want-you-to-be-fat.html?showComment=1215563700000#c8675797273491178805'> Tuesday, July 08, 2008 5:35:00 PM

    The other piece of this is that in poor neighborhoods food has to last long...longer shelf life so highly processed foods become the normal staples.

    What we have done is put in place legislation that allows for low-income families, primarily WIC...Women Infants & Children to use their vouchers and EBT cards at Farmers Markets that run from Early Spring to Late Fall. I co-sponsored this legislation making fresh food more accessible to low-income and poor families.
    There are things communities can do...we have done it by bringing local farmers and growers of fruits and vegtables to urban centers in a successful way for both the farmer and the consumer.

    It just takes a commitment from a few folks in the community to organize a Farmers Market. There are grants just for this cause that go untapped because of lack of access to information.

    Great POST one that is near and dear to my heart!


  4. Tamra Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-want-you-to-be-fat.html?showComment=1215605220000#c8005441791853597959'> Wednesday, July 09, 2008 5:07:00 AM

    I have to make this a quick comment too, but they did actually do a study like that here in Chicago a while back. It was really painful to watch.

    It hit on how so many people (low income, elderly, etc.) in certain neighborhoods have to friggin travel just to buy quasi-nutritious food. They even followed the experiences of an elderly black woman on a fixed income on her trip to and from the grocery store.

    I forget what the numbers were, but they tallied how many bonafide grocery stores there are within a certain number of city blocks, and it was just crazy.

    I have a few more comments and will come back to add them--but this just really makes me angry. And, I'm a little distracted by the news of Iran and their "war games" at the moment...


  5. Tamra Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-want-you-to-be-fat.html?showComment=1215605340000#c2777376656858922314'> Wednesday, July 09, 2008 5:09:00 AM

    Oh, and on the positive side, I just saw a piece last night about a community garden on the south side where all the produce they grow is FREE to folks in the neighborhood. I'll post the info on that program too when I come back.


  6. Christina Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-want-you-to-be-fat.html?showComment=1215611280000#c6866457450745928515'> Wednesday, July 09, 2008 6:48:00 AM

    Our food situation is very frustrating. Being a chef and working with top organic meats, fruits and vegetables, then going to the store to buy what my family can afford is sad.

    When I pick up chicken breast in the store and they are the size of a BUICK, I can't help but think steroids, which then helps me realize this contributes to why we are so big. Frustrating!


  7. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-want-you-to-be-fat.html?showComment=1215619980000#c1382449162152782757'> Wednesday, July 09, 2008 9:13:00 AM

    Mary-Laure: thanks for stopping by. I totally agree with you that a lot of it has to do with politics & until that changes, we will still be faced with many of these issues.

    CapCity: i try to tell myself the same things, but sometimes...i can't afford FRESH items & that sucks!

    LoveBabz:I am aware that you can use WIC to buy veggies. when i lost my job & found out i was preggo all in the same month the hospital in bklyn offered me WIC, however, finding the farmers market that was super far was a challenge. i think a big step has been taken in the sense that you CAN use WIC to buy fruits & veggies, but what about those that aren't on WIC or use EBT cards?

    Tamra:it's crazy how they treat our neighborhoods & those that are most vulnerable. please come back & post the links.

    Xtina: i agree, i think a lot of our rapid growth & esp the maturation of girls at a young age has to do with the hormones in food. but damn it, who can afford organic food these days? i looked at buying some organic milk the other day, it was $7/gal. CRAZY!


  8. sista gp Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-want-you-to-be-fat.html?showComment=1215620340000#c5385366104218539032'> Wednesday, July 09, 2008 9:19:00 AM

    I must admit that during the 5.5 years I just lived a block away from a farmer's market, I had never bought produce from there. I only frequented the cafe for lunch. The grocery store was more convenient as to purchase non-produce items at the same time.

    I went into sticker shock the other day at the grocery store in my new neighborhood. 99 cents for an average-sized cucumber? NO WAY

    I vowed then to shop at the market either at lunch or after work before the drive home.


  9. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-want-you-to-be-fat.html?showComment=1215625380000#c4872565898311347184'> Wednesday, July 09, 2008 10:43:00 AM

    i couldnt get fat if i tried


  10. Lovebabz Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-want-you-to-be-fat.html?showComment=1215658080000#c6769830406800405828'> Wednesday, July 09, 2008 7:48:00 PM

    Dear TPW,

    Yes that is/was always the challenge...what to do with the folks who are not on anybody's radar for assistance. We have that problem here especially with migrant workers and illegal immigrants.

    It is a social ill that definitely needs all the best minds to address, I am however no longer one of them. I do remain optimistic that folks will rally around the global food crisis and not only address the access to fresh food, but make it a right.

    Hugs to you for noticing and raising your voice in concern!


  11. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-want-you-to-be-fat.html?showComment=1215664680000#c3275845975748792383'> Wednesday, July 09, 2008 9:38:00 PM

    sista gp: there is nothing wrong with not frequenting a farmer's market as long as you're still feeding the fam fresh produce. however, lots of time the farmer's markets are cheaper because they use locally grown foods (which is also better for the environment).

    torrance: oh is we all were afflicted by THAT disease *wink*

    Lovebabz: you're right. i was reading the Times and they mentioned that about a million families in NYC are eligible for food stamps, but aren't receiving them. this would help offset the rising cost of food. it makes me wonder how many families here need aid but don't get it. how many across our country? the global food crisis is alarming. i think America is just starting to feel an inkling of what the world feels. we've always been the land of plenty (for the most part), but with the economy on such shaky ground & the prices of gas & food rising rapidly, we are feeling the pain. hopefully it will inspire us to ACT. i applaud you for all of your efforts & thank you for recognizing my tiny voice *smile*


  12. Anonymous Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/07/i-want-you-to-be-fat.html?showComment=1215790380000#c7043568604799417240'> Friday, July 11, 2008 8:33:00 AM

    I'd say you should shop the Farmers Market. Even if you don't buy organic, you are still ahead with freshness and perhaps a bit cheaper than the supermarket. Purchase as little processed as possible, processed foods might be easier to prepare but the long term damage to your body isn't worth it.

    Some years ago whilst visiting my sister in NJ, I noticed the extreme differences in the supermarkets. My sister drove out of her town a long ways to another area (name elludes me now) and I was shocked, I thought I was back in Europe. Exact same set up and quality of foods as against the supermarkets nearer to where she lived where lots of black folks not necessarily in the majority, frequented.
    Who does things like that?