The Myth of the Food Desert
President Obama's new school-lunch law is a good start, but healthy eating begins at home.
But that did help create what has lived on as a palate even after the circumstances that created it have changed. That happens with all human beings, as with CDs, designed to be round like LPs. Someone raised on fruity drinks and fried food is as likely to prefer them permanently -- even if Fairway is down the street -- as someone raised on pita bread and hummus will eat that way forever. I was raised on a cuisine stamped by, if not centered on, the salty realm, and I alternate eternally between resisting and parsimoniously indulging that taste for grease.
All of which is to say that our take on the obesity issue at hand cannot be that sugary and high-fat food is always the only food that is available to poor people within walking distance. It simply isn't true. If we assume that the next step from the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act will be to make sure all poor people live three blocks or fewer from a supermarket, we will see a problem continue.
Rather, there are habits that people of all walks of life develop for any number of reasons, on which they can be persuaded to pull back. We should focus more attention on getting the word out in struggling communities about ways to make tasty food that doesn't kill you. With this book, for instance, you don't miss real flavor -- pass it on.
But let's not fall for the idea that for poor black people and only poor black people, kale and apples being sold four blocks away are out of reach.
John McWhorter is a regular contributor to The Root. He is the author of Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English.