Posted by: kbvale | August 12, 2009

Land of Plenty? Food Access in the Valley

The valley’s poor are more often than not farm workers: people to spend most of their days surrounded by the fruits, dairy cows, and other regional staples that produce food that feeds the world.  Ironically, though, the lack of affordable food access means that many of these laborers cannot eat the very products they helped to harvest. An article in the July 25, 2009 edition of the Fresno Bee titled “Groceries more costly for Valley’s poor” (http://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/1559656.html) depicts this issue very well, telling the story of valley residents who are forced to eat poorly due to financial or transportation issues and a lack of affordable supermarkets in low-income areas of the region.

Food access has more repercussions than simple hunger and nourishment; this issue affects mental and physical health, creating problems such as poor school achievement that perpetuates the very state of poverty that started the issue in the first place.  Furthermore, with television and popular commentary claiming that issues such as obesity or failing grades is result of a purely individualistic choice, it becomes clear the larger issue: without assistance, poor people have little ability to pull themselves out of their economic condition.  In many cases, poverty (much like wealth) is an intergenerational experience, which runs in direct contradiction to our ideal of American meritocracy in which we claim all people to have equal chance at success.  And clearly there is no better example of the flaws in reason presented by this idealist view of society than the case of those who live and work surrounded by food and yet are unable to keep them and their families properly nourished.  Yet, in a society driven by capitalistic motives, how are we to stop these injustices if not through direct government intervention?  While the answer is not clear, one thing is: with most valley  towns relying on the Food Mart at their local gas station for their meals, something must be done.

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