Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The South Bronx's "Obesity-Hunger Paradox"

An article in The New York Times this past weekend, “The Obesity-Hunger Paradox,” discussed the health situation and food options of residents of the South Bronx, a low-income area in New York City.

The article states that, paradoxically, “the hungriest people in America today, statistically speaking, may well be not sickly skinny, but excessively fat.”

I am familiar with one of the area’s neighborhoods and some of its residents, as I occasionally discuss nutrition with members of CitySquash, a not-for-profit after school enrichment program based on the sport of squash in the Fordham section of the Bronx.

While some decent food options exist, the prevailing choices most often fall between terrible and awful.

I sent the article to my friend Brian Mathias, who was CitySquash’s Director of Squash and Community Service from 2002 to 2005. Brian’s take on the bigger picture warrants repeating, as he succinctly identifies the food cycle we have created:
“Federal government subsidizes industrial agriculture, making fast and processed food artificially cheap, making it the only affordable option for millions of poor people, making disease widespread among them, making local government subsidize fresh, local foods.

"All the while the obvious solution, the stress at the beginning of the chain that has so many other destructive effects we would be better off without, is untouchable because it is protected by giant corporations who control the politics of it all.”
Anyone else want to share their thoughts?


AT22 said...

I just read something similar - that the government subsidizes most heavily that which it (it = the government) tells people not to eat. Namely, commercial beef (with grains coming in second according to the graphic I saw). With such conflicting information and actions, how are people supposed to figure this out?

There are so many things at play (as the articles states) that it seems like will take a lot of time and changes (in thinking, politics, etc) to fix this, even when, in the end, it should be so easy to fix.

How about Farm City -- more communal gardens -- as one way to help the problem.

Anonymous said...

Viewed in this manner, the problem takes on a Malthusian perspective. Is this how we control or lose 'surplus population?'