17 July 2009

Health and responsibility

I'm a guy that loves a soda. There's something about the carbonation and the high fructose corn syrup that just makes me really crave them. And I recognize they aren't good for you, and they're probably the largest repository for under the radar calories you can imagine (for example, the 20 ounce Sprite has 240 calories, which is approximately 12% of the 2000 calorie intake target people in the know say we should be aiming for. However, after I open the soda, and have the first couple of ounces, I am reminded these aren't very refershing, they never seem to resolve the issue I have with thirst. So recently, I have decided to make an effort to drink more water...and am finding out that bottled water costs more than Coke. At some point, I see myself having the uncensored rant about water, bottled water and what that really says about us, but as I said, that's for later.

This may not be a surprise to many of you all, as you may have been buying bottled water and getting beaten for years. But for me, this is new. I've bought many a bottle of water, but I guess I never really noticed- actually more likely is that bottled water has increased in price more recently, which seems to make sense in the supply and demand world. But I guess for me, it just seems water is just another thing being made close to inaccessible to the poor...

I went to visit my uncle a couple of weeks ago, and he lives in an area affectionately called "the hood." This is a part of town where one's safety can't be guaranteed, where crime is an everyday part of life and an area most people make an effort to avoid (my uncle, a man of sufficient means, chooses to live in the hood, speaking of the people as more genuine. "These people may try to steal from me, but more likely they will just ask for something of they need it. When I lived "on the hill," I always felt people were waiting for me to leave, but smiling and being considerate to me to my face. Better to be comfortable in "mi barrio" than to walk on eggshells to live where you live." But I digress...when I left his spot, I wanted to find a grocery store to pick up some things before I went home. I got my first lesson in city planning when it concerns the poor. There was no grocery store in the area, it required one to travel 3.3 miles to the city center, which is where the closest store happened to be. I decided to instead go into a local store, one of the corner markets. The place I walked into was just a racket disguised as a store. Everything in the store was more expensive, and there were just less options. Not very many name brands, which is neither here nor there, but the store was charging name brand prices for generic brands, and there weren't very many options. For example, the store I'm referring to didn't have any wheat bread. 100 different blunt wraps, but no wheat bread.There was no milk. There was an extensive fortified wine section, but no milk. No eggs. No butter. A ton of candy and sweets- Little Debbie snack cakes everywhere. I just assumed it was a shitty store, and that these things could be gotten at another store in the area. The next time I talked to my uncle and told him about my store experience, he told me that was "Standard Operating Procedure" and that even the grocery stores in the area were terrible. He said if he needed anything, he had no problem getting in the car and going "up the hill" to go shopping for the things he can't get in the area (Sunday Paper, Vitamins, Fresh Fruits and Vegetables and Juices, Meats) but that still didn't resolve the issue for his neighbors. He then asked a question that I know he knew the answer to. Why is it harder for people in my neighborhood to get the things necessary to be healthy?

Because, in a nutshell, people for whom the acquisition of money is their main objective, tend to not give a fuck about people that can't help them in those endeavors.

This rings true at the political level, and I had always known that. I just assumed, for what appears to be no reason at all, that it would manifest itself in other ways, or not at all. The corner store has no need to make sure you get access to all four food groups, it is an individual responsibility. But if you're blocked access from these things, if the stores you use sell Orange Drink and not Orange Juice, if you only have access to unhealthy foods, how would one meet their personal responsibility? You can't, which just means you can't get healthy.

No wonder 25% of the population is obese...


  1. Americans spend $15 billion a year on bottled water-- more money than we spend on ipods or movies. We drink a billion bottles a week, most most of it tap water bottled by Coke & Pepsi and sold back to us. So while we're paying $2 for something that we can get for free, 1/6th of the world's people don't have clean drinking water. Economic racism perpetuated by corporate greed.

  2. http://www.ajpm-online.net/article/PIIS0749379706000614/fulltext

    You might find this study interesting. One of many that supports your observations. It's why urban farming is getting increased support in some areas.