Eat Healthful Food...If You Can Find It

John Commins, May 21, 2012

For those who embrace the wellness movement, two federal departments have just issued two separate reports that hearten and frustrate for the same reason.


First, the Department of Agriculture issued a report on Wednesday that found that healthful foods such as fresh vegetables cost no more "per calorie" than processed foods and junk foods. That bit of economic analysis eliminates a lame excuse that many of us have used while waiting in the $1 menu line at McDonald's.

One day after this report was released, however, the Treasury Department issued a report that found that 24.8 million Americans live in areas with limited supermarket access, what the feds call LSA, a problem significant enough to warrant its own acronym.

The Treasury report, Searching for Markets "identifies 1,519 communities where supermarkets do not exist, and where the unmet demand within the community is large enough to support a full-service grocery store." Treasury says LSA communities are 2.28 times more likely to be low-income and have larger minority populations.

These reports underscore a stubborn hurdle that faces well-meaning wellness advocates. While it is heartening to know that fresh foods are just as affordable as junk food, that information is teasingly useless for 25 million generally poorer Americans who could greatly benefit from healthier diets but have limited access.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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