This is the real world of eating and nutrition in the rural United States. Forget plucking an apple from a tree, or an egg from under a chicken. "The stereotype is everyone in rural America lives on a farm, which is far from the truth," says Jim Weill, president of the nonprofit Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). New research from the University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health shows just how unhealthy the country life can be. The study, which examined food-shopping options in Orangeburg County (1,106 square miles, population 91,500), found a dearth of supermarkets and grocery stores.
Of course it’s true that in every part of the country- rural and urban areas- we have lost our connection with what we eat. And many people no longer grow any of what makes it onto their dining room tables. So logically one would expect the article to recommend a reconnection to the local farm fields that could feed us and offer the idea of stronger self sufficiency through some home grown produce- planting that apple tree or raising that chicken. Nope. The answer apparently is more grocery stores and more food stamps.
Nutritionists and anti-hunger activists know what rural Americans should eat. In an ideal world, says Weill, more people would take advantage of nutrition and financial education programs, like those offered by the USDA, that teach consumers how to make a food budget and use recipes. The 2007 Farm Bill would increase food stamp access and benefits and allocate an additional $2.75 billion over 10 years to buy fruits and vegetables for the USDA's nutrition assistance programs…
I have no problem with offering help to people who need it. In fact I think as human beings we have a moral obligation to do so. But help should involve more than passing out food stamps. It should involve teaching people how to grow more of their own food and cook with whole ingredients. It should include a farm bill that actually supports the small scale, sustainable agriculture that could offer healthy food to rural and urban communities across our nation. Pick you simile- treating the problem of unhealthy eating in rural America by building more grocery stores and handing out more food stamps is like putting a Band-Aid on a gaping chest wound. It is completely ass backward.