Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Food Geography

In the middle of the uproar over fruit and vegetable peddlers and the promotion of greenmarkets it is important to point out that there is a much better way to insure that all New Yorkers have access to healthy food. That way, pioneered by the Food Trust in Philadelphia and institutionalized by Governor Rendell in Pennsylvania, is the aggressive advocacy for the building of new supermarkets in previously underserved areas.

What all of the studies on the issue of health in minority neighborhoods indicate is that the situation could be dramatically improved by the public promotion of new supermarket development. As the Food Trust underscores, "Emerging evidence suggests that access to healthy food in neighborhoods is associated with a healthy promoting diet and that poor access is associated with poor health outcomes."

What is needed here is a public-private partnership on the lines proposed by Congresswoman Velasquez for the city's bodegas. The supermarkets and bodegas of New York City can play an important role in helping to educate its customers about eating healthier. At the same time, the city can do more to promote the economic health of these retail outlets and the development of new food outlets in areas that are identified as having health deficiencies (see a parallel discussion over at Gotham Gazette).