Food Elites’ push for Organic Produce Hurts California’s Food Deserts
Amazon recently stated that it plans to purchase Whole Foods and many people have mixed reactions. One group of people that was particularly happy with the news was the food elite, who want to get people to pay more money for food that is “organic.” Food elites hurt local farms because they spread fear that the fresh produce from “non-organic” farms is harmful.
Wealthy people, particularly in the Bay Area, and chefs such as Alice Waters want people to pay more for food and are discrediting hard working local farmers. The goal shouldn’t be to make sure everyone has the luxury to buy designer lettuce grown on 14 different local “organic” farms, as is the case with Waters’ five-star Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse.
The food elites and people such as Waters want to essentially make food less available for people because there aren’t that many local “organic” farms to sustain California, let alone the entire nation. Some people are already dealing with having limited options for fruits and vegetables. The goal should be to make sure that fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available to those who need it most. Some people don’t own cars to easily travel to grocery stores and instead are limited to fast food. According to the Alliance for Food and Farming,
A peer-reviewed study released in 2016 found that these organic-only campaigns push low-income people away from eating any fruits and vegetables—which is truly disturbing given that the Centers for Disease Control estimates that only one in 10 Americans eats the recommended amount of produce every day.
Scaring consumers away when produce choices are already limited is unfair and detrimental to public health, especially when many who live in food deserts disproportionately suffer from health issues associated with poor diets. Decades of nutritional research shows that increasing consumption of produce can improve health and prevent diseases, like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
A paper published in the journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology found that increasing half of Americans consumption of a fruit and vegetables by a single serving per day could prevent 20,000 cancer cases annually. The Food Empowerment Project indicates that Type 2 Diabetes has risen across demographic lines in recent years. The highest rates of escalation have been identified in Native American youth, African-Americans and Latinos of all age groups, with these groups suffering disproportionately higher rates of Type 2 Diabetes compared to whites.
A comprehensive study in 2012 by Stanford University’s Center for Health Policy shows that “organic” foods are “not nutritionally superior to conventional alternatives,” in addition to costing a third more. Despite this, the food elites continue to push for “organic” foods. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that in California alone, more than one million people live in food deserts. Not surprisingly, the inhabitants of food deserts are predominantly low-income and ethnic minorities.
The food elites and environmental community need to stop promoting fear and shaming people for not eating “organic” fruits and vegetables. These foods are more expensive than conventionally grown produce and local farms are hurt because of the fear and shaming for eating “non-organic” fruits and vegetables.