Thursday, May 3, 2012

Food Desert Full of "Happy" People

I visited the topic of food deserts before, and I was pretty sure they were about as real as the dream I had last night of swapping spit with multiple supermodels. I’m sorry to say it was just a case of too much Ice cream, and The Cat taking advantage of my slumber by licking the excess Chunky Monkey off my face. As for the “Food Deserts”, I was right…excuse me for a moment while I go gargle with bleach to get the taste of Iams “Savory Salmon” out of my mouth.

“But Pav, the president’s wife said food deserts are real!” I’m sorry dear naïve reader, but president’s wives, much like presidents and other assorted politicians…say a lot of things. They also kiss a lot of babies and shake a lot of hands, and sadly there are never enough baby-wipes and hand sanitizer afterwards to get the dirt and smell off either the baby or your hands. Just because the first lady said food deserts exist, doesn’t make it so. If that were the case I’d be the sexiest man on earth because I tell myself that while brushing my teeth in the mirror every morning.

Well, ok let’s leave the poor presidents and their wives out of this for a moment shall we? She wasn’t the only person jumping on the deserted food island. In fact, the USDA even has a food desert finder. Here’s one reliable piece of entertainment information everybody should make sure to keep close at hand. Remember when I told you I grew up approximately ten miles from the town where my family had to go for the nearest grocery store? Well it turns out not only that grocery store my parents went to, but five others including a Wal-Mart and a Target are all…get this…IN A FOOD DESERT! Well, according to the USDA anyway.

This makes sense because a town with twenty five thousand people should have at least what…ten or twelve supermarkets?! As it is there are six… which if the population were split evenly between all the markets, each market gets just over four thousand people. I don’t know how you could be in less of a food dessert unless you built a supermarket for each person in town.

Let’s see how that would work…..  Store Manager “Come on in Mr. Pav…we’ve been expecting you!” Today we have some lovely specials including” *interrupting* Me~ Ummmm, I’m actually only in here for a Sentinel and a pair of tube socks…actually skip the paper as I already heard about Fred’s cow getting out and hitting Bob’s car…Bob’s gotta be pissed.

Dr. Helen Lee of the Public Policy Institute of California was one of several groups that published its findings with regards to “Food Deserts.” Dr. Lee found that urban communities have double the amount of fast food joints, but also double the number of supermarkets per square mile than its suburban counterparts. On top of that they also had three times the number corner markets per square mile. So even if your supermarket was perhaps a bus change or two from home, at least you are well within range of a corner store for the odd orange or head of lettuce…right?

I read an article in The New York Times that used Dr. Lee’s findings amongst others that basically all said the same thing…food deserts are a bunch of hooey. If somebody would like to pay me to do a similar study I could do something useful with the money like an exploration into the underprivileged low self-esteemed women of The Bunny Ranch, and ways in which I might boost their, as well as my own morale and self-esteem…I think two or three million might just do the trick…errr…tricks.

After reading the stories in the NYT I like to read the comments to see what the knee jerk bobble-heads are going to have to say on the matter. “We need to educate people more with regards to nutrition so that people can make better healthier decisions with regards to their food options.” Yes, by all means…let’s spend more taxpayer dollars because someone doesn’t know an apple is healthier than say…an apple pie.

Correct me If I’m wrong, but I’ve been getting nutritional and food education since nutrition amounted to a square with four food groups!  Join with me in a trip down memory lane if anybody else remembers this…Mulligan Stew. This started in 1972 and was shown when I was in elementary school. I’m sure my school was not unique in this respect. If we want to get down to the nitty gritty, the USDA first started distributing nutritional information to schools in 1916 with a wheel, then moved to a square and today is up to…oh hell I don’t know… an isosceles trapezoid.

So education and taxpayer’s money is not the answer. Full grown adults do not need to be told fruits and vegetables are better for them and their families than a jumbo-sized meal at a fast food restaurant. If you’re a concerned adult/parent and you care enough about yourself and or your family, you will make sure they eat fairly healthy on a regular basis. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the bigger underlying problem… it just takes someone who’s ready to cut through all the PC crap.

Lazy people exude and nurture laziness and as a result will most likely develop a poor diet and become overweight as a result so the true and underlying problem here is not lack of education, its laziness. This will happen if that type of person lives fifty miles from a grocery store, or right in the middle of a produce aisle. Oh you don’t like the term “LAZY”? You say it’s too mean spirited and judgmental and you’d like a positive name? That’s easy…from here on out gentle readers; we will call them “HAPPY” people.

That same “happy” person living in the produce aisle will take it a step further by picking their chair up and moving it to the center of the store, where they can be closer to the chips and soda rather than pick up a knife to do a little prep on some fruits and vegetables. Because the little effort in the front end will pay dividends as long as the peanuts, pork rinds and root beer hold out. In other words, they are being rewarded for their lack of effort.

This type of person isn’t of a particular color, gender, race, or religion. This type of person has no boundaries and doesn’t live in any specific neighborhood. But this type of person does have similar traits with their peers. They have the government provide excuses for them in exchange for the honor of being labeled a victim, and as a result of these hard earned accepted excuses… see if this sounds familiar…they are rewarded for their lack of effort. They are rewarded with promises and programs, in exchange for their last shred of dignity and self-respect in the name of progress.

Yes, not all people fall into the “happy” category. There are long term health issues, and for the poorest of the poor there are programs that can help them. Sadly, these are usually the same programs being abused to their very limits by the class of people I was just speaking of…the happy victims. This is not what people want to hear as it doesn’t leave you feeling like just after your first kiss, or as though you were cuddling with a teddy bear and sipping cocoa. Reality is a nine headed serpent beast that could peel your head like an orange and vomit into your open skull, maybe that’s what you need right now, and I’m sure I will be poked with the shit end of the stick for saying so.

People want to hear that “hey, with a little education…of course they’ll start making a fresh nutritious meal for little Timmy every night instead of two double hippo burgers, a side of potato thighs and a lard ass shake.” But deep down, after you pull your mush filled head out of your collective asses… you know better. Americans are a positive people; they want to believe in nothing but the best can come from fellow citizens. People in hell want ice water, but that ain’t happening anytime soon either.

All the money in the world won’t fix “happy”. All the government programs in the world won’t fix “happy”. “Happy” people are going to have to fix “happy” themselves. The sad thing is, as long as they are being lauded, revered and rewarded as the victim….where’s the incentive to change?! There is none. I’m not a politician, and like them I don’t have the answers. I don’t know if the carrot and the stick routine would work for “happy” people the way it does for the rest of the world.

But we will never find out if we don’t shut the tap off that’s dumping money in their laps, take the binkies out of their mouths and let them ride a block or two without training wheels. I understand risk and reward just like the happy people do. I also understand the reward will also take a little effort on my part. Some people are just “happy” enough to throw caution to the wind and let it all ride on risk… I’m just getting tired of paying the tab when there marker is called.

Go ahead and call me a hate monger, a cold and callus bastard with no regard for human pain and suffering. Then when twenty years goes by and things are still status quo…don’t come bitchin to me. If you let a child go to sharpen his pencil ten times a day to get out of school work, tomorrow he/she is going to try for twenty times. When you finally say enough is enough, he/she makes due with what they’ve got. The answer isn’t, let’s send them up  forty times... I'm sure it’ll make their classwork four times better!


  1. So what brought all this on, Pav?

    1. Dr. I was reading a study that basically debunked the whole food desert idea which I had done a piece on before. So I wanted to jump back on and chime in about it. Thanks for reading!

  2. desert...what is this BS??? Thanks for bringing this up! Oh and thanks for the laughs! Now I'm curious what the reactions will be...
    Keep up the good work :-)

    1. My thoughts exactly Hanneke! What kind of B.S. is this?! Glad you liked it!

  3. The food desert seems out of place - but I do think education does need to be improved. This doesn't have to take tax payers dollars - sure most know that an apple is "healthier" than apple pie, but the ignorance towards the caloric content of foods in general is alarming.

    Some people are still under the impression that "low fat" = healthy. So they can eat all the sugary laden cookies/crackers/drinks in the world with no repercussions right?

    If it's a case of limited resources, something needs to be done to improve them. There is no reason produce should be so damned expensive in comparisson to packaged garbage or a value menu.

    1. and what I mean by "out of place" is "dumb"

    2. I knew what you meant Rod. So does this mean I can't eat the whole box of snack wells?! Yes, people have a hard time grasping the low cal = healthy concept, but I lay a lot of that at the feet of the manufacturers and marketing. If it isn't low fat they'll use "all natural" "Artisan" "Gluten Free" or some other label that doesn't really have anything to do with jack diddly.

      Produce is never going to be less expensive that say a pack of Twinkies... but when you think of it, it's because it is a package with nothing but empty calories in it. An apple takes time and resources to grow, then it needs to be shipped across the country to a supermarket in a refrigerated car due to its short shelf life. This is also a crop which depends on certain weather conditions to grow properly...

      Twinkies require no such conditions and have a long shelf life. Plus they are made with ingredients that are readily available in bulk or manufactured so the price is less volatile.

      What people need to understand is that even though the price difference is great, the nutritional value makes the apple a better value in the long run.

      I think the problem I have with the "fresh produce is too expensive" argument, is that these same people making this argument have no problem loading up on boxed cereals, snack foods and the like, which takes up a majority of their food budget...when it comes to food in most cases...less is more.

      Thanks for reading!

    3. Yeah, when I pick up a box of gluten-free muffin & scone mix with the intent to use it as substitute cupcake mix, I'm only getting the gluten-free version because a box of actual cake mix would destroy my digestion for weeks. I know perfectly well I'm going to be pouring at least half a cup of sugar into it, adding two eggs, and whatever amount of oil it calls for. Nevermind that the mix itself is still calories of some sort. It's not magical health-in-a-box and from the context of your using the gluten-free food label here and in other similar comments, it would appear some people actually think it is. Weird. The world could use a little more common sense, it seems. O.o;;