Have you ever heard the term “food desert” before? I heard it once in a documentary a long time ago and never thought much about it until recently when I heard the term again while watching a video on YouTube.
A food desert is defined as an area where the inhabitants have limited access to affordable, nutritious, good-quality, fresh food. Often these areas are considered low-income and/or rural. The opposite would be a place where affordable, nutritious, good-quality, fresh food was abundant. And that area would be called a “food oasis”.
I have plenty of access to groceries where I live, but I don’t have a lot of access to good-quality, fresh food. While I may not be living as far into the metaphorical Sahara as many others, I definitely find myself living in a food desert.
There are three grocery stores in my town. Two are well known in corporate America, and one is lesser known. You’d think that would provide me with a wide variety of fresh food, but you would be wrong. When I want to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables, I generally have to wade through a sea of old, rotting, and often moldy items in order to find just one item worth my purchase. When I look for meat items, it is equally disturbing. In order to purchase something actually healthy (not loaded down in a pound of fat for each pound of meat), I have to pay a ridiculous amount of money.
But if I want highly processed, full of preservatives, canned, boxed, or frozen foods… Well, they are everywhere to be found.
And it makes eating healthy very difficult.
I Need to Lose Weight
So why am I talking about all of this? The answer is simple. I need to lose weight.
My health is not the best right now, so I am taking measures in my life to improve that. And if I want to be successful, I need to eat properly. I’ve begun cutting sugar, as you already know. But I also need to eat more good quality proteins along with the fruits and veggies.
Frozen vegetables are fine for a limited time, but there comes a point when a person just wants a fresh salad. And when I go to the store only to find mold all over the tomatoes, disgusting brown rot on the lettuce, and bell peppers that look like they’ve been stomped on the ground, well, it’s very upsetting… and incredibly discouraging.
It doesn’t happen all the time. I mean, there are days when the cucumbers actually aren’t soggy, and I buy a few. There are times when I get baby carrots (the kind that come in a plastic bag) because they look ok. But they have to be eaten quickly or they will go bad. Sometimes, the peppers are decent… but that’s like a one in ten shot.
Fresh berries are really difficult. I swear we are the last on the delivery list up here in the North. By the time berries hit our stores, the mold has already started taking over. If you don’t get to the store the exact morning of delivery, you may as well forget it.
I haven’t had an apple in two years. I guess I could eat bruised apples, but I don’t want mush. When I buy an apple, I expect it to be crisp and juicy.
I wrote to one of the grocers to voice my concerns. I never heard back from them.
It’s hard to make healthy choices when the choices are clearly so bad. And where I live isn’t even the worst. I mean, there are still times when I can find good stuff. It just takes work. But there are people here in the United States who don’t even have the bad produce. They just have nothing.
In America! It’s absurd!
In places like where I live, and in many other places, frozen, processed, boxed, and canned food is all people can get. Anything else is a luxury.
Back where I used to live, fresh meat and produce were abundant. And grocery prices were quite literally half of what I pay now. If someone had told me that the selection would be this bad before I moved, I never would have believed them. I guess I just thought all grocery stores were like what I was used to.
But like I said earlier, I’m nowhere near the Sahara in my food desert. Mine is more like the Great Basin… still a desert, but not quite as dry.
Losing weight isn’t easy. I’ll be doing my best to buy the healthy options when I find them. And I’m working on ways to make them stay fresh longer so I won’t have to be at the grocery store all the time.
I’m also working on reducing my processed food intake, and if I have to go for frozen veggies then so be it. The flavor isn’t quite the same, but it’s better than nothing. And some say that frozen veggies retain nutrients longer, so there is that to consider.
How is the food where you live? I’m curious if anyone else has a shortage of good-quality, fresh ingredients where they currently live.
Oh, and I didn’t even tell you about how our town quite regularly runs out of milk!
Yes, I am serious. Empty shelves and people at the store not even knowing when the truck will come in… it’s happened. A lot. *sigh*