Last week the Huffington Post had an article on line about a chef in San Francisco who was doing a fund raiser for the food bank. In order to publicize the event, he started about 2 months ago living on the the same amount of money the average person receives each month in food stamps. He figured he had about $4 a day to feed himself. It really was an eye opening experience and he blogs about it at http://fusiononthefly.com/. As always, the comments about the article are all over the place from folks that live that life everyday to the people complaining about food stamps.
The comments that got me thinking though were the ones about educating people how to not only eat right but shop smart. I know that I live in a fairly urban area and in the portion of Charleston we live in, there are a fair amount of choices for shopping close by but, if you go not to far away, into some of the more poverty stricken areas, there are no grocery stores near by. The bus transportation is poor here and for many people the only choice is to walk or get a taxi which is not really feasible.
South Carolina for all its beauty has one of the worst education systems in the country, is one of the most obese states in the country and has one of the highest rates of kidney disease and diabetes. How many of the health issues can be resolved by changing diet?
There is a great organization by the name of Slow Food. If you have never heard of it, it is an international group devoted to educating people to healthier eating choices (I suspect there is more to it than that). They are involved with some of the schools here in order to promote better food choices and healthier school menus. Both of these are extremely important but...if the kids aren't introduced to this type of eating at home, chances are they will not eat that way at school. Heck, we were all kids (some of you still are) and we can remember the food thrown out in the cafeteria every day. It was never the chocolate pudding but usually the salad. How do you reach the families in order to turn this around at home?
So this brings me back to the grocery store and shopping. I go to quite a few stores to do my shopping. Some are upscale some are not. What I notice the most when I shop are the choices that people make. I'm nosey, I admit it, and I guess part of it is also the retailer in me. I look to see what people have in their carts. In the upper scale stores, people tend to have more fresh vegetable and healthier choices in their carts, in the lower end stores the carts are full of meat and almost nothing else. We are talking about those enormous metal carts, over flowing with chicken and pork and beef. No veggies, no juice, just basically meat. You hear so much talk about how eating healthy is expensive but when you come down to it, it really isn't. It's a trade off.
I wonder if you can get the organizations that are promoting healthier eating to work with the grocery stores? Not Publix and Harris Teeter but stores like Piggly Wiggly and Doschers where there are more lower income families spending their hard earned money and food stamps at? I would certainly volunteer my time for something like that.