Growing up, there were a number of small grocery stores spread out across the town. They were located within 1 to 2 miles of most residents which made access relatively easy for most. They all provided dairy, produce, meats, and deli. They had cereal, condiments, snacks, and cleaning products. They provided the basics and were visited by loyal customers. Then along came the boom of the large supermarkets which put the small stores out of business, and made access for some people a hardship. There are now more convenience stores or fast food establishments closer to some people than a grocery store. This has contributed to the rise of unhealthy eating, and the increase of problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and cholesterol.
There was a time when Grand Union, A&P, Finast, Waldbaum’s, and a number of other small stores dotted the neighborhoods. If need be, one could walk or take a short ride on mass transit to purchase a few items. This is no longer the case. The large stores are on main roads in many towns making it difficult for people who do not own a vehicle to reach. It is almost impossible to make large purchases as it is too hard to carry on a bus. This wasn’t as much of a problem when stores were within a reasonable distance from one’s home.
So what happens? It is easier to pick up that doughnut on the corner. It is easier to go to the fast food establishment or buy processed items that can sit on the shelf without going bad. How is this supposed to help people make good decisions when it comes to diet? Doesn’t it lead to more health related issues and more expense when it comes to providing health care?
There has been some effort in small cities and towns to set up farmer’s markets which bring fresh produce and other items to the people. This has been successful for both the consumer and the farmers. It is one thing to constantly tell people that they have improve their diet and watch what they eat. It is equally if not more important to make access to those foods available. It has to be provided and it has to be easily accessible. This should be considered by the community at large when the concern for the health of people is discussed. It should be realized that all people, regardless of income, location, and means of transportation have the right to access quality food and a healthier lifestyle.