Food desert awareness

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Big Food rates heavy blame for obesity

It’s ironic that the same day we read your Sept. 5 editorial “Reduce heavy burden on state,” we passed a CARTA bus covered with photos of fast food and discovered that it was Free Ride Friday, sponsored by McDonald’s.

Why are we using our tax dollars to subsidize the big food industry and products that we know cause obesity and a lifetime of chronic health problems? This cheap food is going to be very expensive in the long run.

These foods should be taxed, with the money going to nutrition education and promoting responsible farming practices. It seems that you are blaming the people when it is, in fact, the food industry that needs to be held accountable.

Food is designed by nature to protect your heart. Processed foods are stripped of soluble fiber, antioxidants and “good” fats, but contain trans fats, salt, refined grains and high fructose corn syrup, which contribute to or raise the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks, insulin resistance, diabetes, belly fat and poor academic performance.

No amount of kayaking, paddle boarding or other types of exercise, will combat the ill effects of these types of food.

When you use the term “so-called” food deserts you seem to imply that food deserts aren’t real.

But food deserts are a harsh reality in South Carolina. According to Clemson University, there are 1,632 rural and 4,897 urban communities that meet the food desert definition.

Low-income Americans are always hit the hardest, despite many of them being our hardest workers. Many residents who live in these food deserts once lived on the peninsula or the islands, in thriving communities with plenty of fresh food available. Due to re-gentrification, huge increases in property taxes, a lack of affordable housing and a stagnant minimum wage, many of our long-time residents are concentrated into areas of poverty with very little food choice.

We agree that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should have restrictions on the kind of food purchased, but if there is no alternative, what have we accomplished?

Along with restrictions, there needs to be an increase in availability of whole foods. There needs to be widespread education, empowerment and funding of healthy food hubs at the state level to make a substantial change.

We would like to thank our local farmers, who allow us to pick vegetables from their fields before they are plowed. We deliver that fresh, local, healthy produce to agencies that serve those living in food deserts. In our experiences working with the food insecure, it is the fresh fruits and vegetables that are most highly valued.

We encourage people to take the Food Stamp Challenge for a better understanding of the challenges facing the food insecure. If you would like to volunteer to pick local produce for the residents of our local food deserts and those who serve them, please contact OASIS at oasis_1@aol.com

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