Racialicious, I found this post at The Fat Nutritionist about the general hand-wringing that goes on over what poor choices in meals low-income people make. Michelle says:
… the most popularly proposed solution is to teach them (“them”) more about nutrition! Or educate them in general.
Because obviously they just don’t know what they’re doing. And that’s why they eat so badly, and hence, why their health tends to be poorer!
And eureka! — you have a tidy solution that not only absolves financial and economic guilt, but, as a bonus, allows richer, more-edumacated people to assume the role of benevolent experts.
Here comes the part where I bust up that nice, warm bubble bath.
The reality is that people who don’t have enough money (or the utilities and storage) to buy and prepare decent food in decent quantities, cannot (and should not) be arsed to worry about the finer nuances of nutrition.
Because getting enough to eat is always our first priority.
In order to make healthy choices, well, you have to have choices. You have to have access to choices. And when you live in a neighborhood that doesn’t have a grocery store but is chockablock with fast food places and corner convenience stores, when you don’t have a car, when the public transportation service in your area (if you even have it) is sporadic, then what will you end up with? And that’s if you’re able to have the money to buy the food in the first place.
Michelle also gives a nice summary of why, when we can actually make a choice between the “nutritional” diet shake and a bag of chips, we go for the bag of chips: because it tastes better. And that’s what our bodies like, things that taste good. Things that can be a joy to eat. So yes, you have the choice between the craptacular shake that’s “good” for you and the can of Pringles. But is that always a real choice?
I recently moved to an area of my city that historically has not had a chain grocery where you can buy fresh fruits and veggies. The closest chain store is at least 17 blocks from my house. What if I didn’t have a car? What if I couldn’t afford to shop there? When you have these things, it’s tough to remember that they’re not automatic for everyone. That not everyone can get food on demand.
Anyway, thanks to Michelle for bringing up these much-needed points. Especially in an age where “local food” and “organic” foods seem to separate the good people from the not-so-great. For some of us, it’s not even a choice of where we shop; it’s whether we can shop at all.