It appears that there is definitely a connection between a person’s health and access to grocery stores, especially quality stores with an acceptable variety of food options. The Alliance for Healthy and Responsible Grocery Stores notes that families and individuals that do not have access to the fresh fruits and vegetables available in grocery stores and that are crucial to a healthy diet instead tend to consume fast food, convenience store food, and foods from stores that are high in preservatives that will last between trips to grocery stores. These foods tend to be high in calories and deficient in nutrient content, and communities relying on these kinds of cuisine for sustenance tend to have higher rates of obesity as well as other nutrition-related issues.
I would say so; for example, living in Austin many individuals are healthy due to the stores available to them. Besides HEB Austin has local farmers who bring in their items, most of which are grown organically. In contrast, El Paso, my former town, lacks any organically grown local farming and mainly relies on large corporations such as Walmart for food and other items. El Paso does not have the healthiest people, being ranked the third fattest city in the U.S. I believe this is due to the lack of not only other dietary methods of living (vegetarianism, veganism, etc.), but due to the lack of local, organic foods and other markets.
The term generally used to describe areas in which there is decreased access to grocery stores is food desert. As mentioned above, the main sources of food in these areas are convenience stores, with expensive or no fresh vegetables, or fast food restaurants, also with limited health options. It is these food deserts that First Lady Michelle Obama is seeking to highlight and relieve with her current anti-obesity campaign, focusing on children’s health.
While the US has a wealth of health food stores, other countries, especially developing countries, are not as fortunate. If you think about it, one of our friend’s in the US could decide to become an organic-raw-vegan tomorrow, go to a nearby health food store to load up on supplies, go to a nearby vegan eatery with friends, etc. That is not the case is most places. In many other places, it’s hard even to find such a plethora of foods from different cultures, much less a variety of health food options. If there were no specialty health food stores, little or no organic farmer’s markets, etc, imagine how much more limited your options would be, and how much easier it would seem to eat whatever you could get. Especially if you had a lower income, and were relieved to have food in the first place! This is the case in many places in the world, where malnutrition is also a problem.
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