Over on Think Progress, Jamelle Bouie explores the link between poverty and obesity. In the excerpt below, Bouie explains that the problem can't merely be linked to access to more nutritional food
It’s not that healthier ingredients are absent or too expensive — even lower-priced supermarkets have plenty of fresh produce available — it’s that preparing those meals requires more time and energy than is available to most lower-income people. Cooking takes time, and after a long day of hard work in low-wage employment, parents want to relax, and the incredible ease of fast and processed food is a powerful lure. Indeed, if there’s any advantage to lower-income grocery stores Kroger or Wal-Mart, it’s that calorie dense foods — cookies, frozen pizza, Easy Mac — are cheap and readily available.
That said, if there’s anything I’ve learned from watching my friends attempt to navigate the kitchen, it’s that cooking isn’t obvious. Unless you’re familiar with the basics of preparation and cooking, the act of taking a few ingredients — some cornmeal, a bushel of greens, an egg — and making a meal is mystifying. Poor people are simply less likely to have access to that kind of knowledge. Moreover, eating habits are generational, and if you grew up in a home where food was prepared from fresh ingredients you’re far more likely to know what to do in a kitchen. By contrast, if you grew up eating processed and prepackaged food, then those are the first things you’ll reach for when you’re on your own.