Does everyone really know what’s healthy?
By Gissele Cuanenemi
The reality of the low-income areas in which healthier foods aren’t accessible.
Around the 1.5 miles of the Corona neighborhood in Queens, NY, there would be fast foods such as McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell. All these fast food restaurants are mostly located within low-income areas. They are more targeted to Hispanic and Black communities which would lead them to having more health issues than high income people. An article published by the Commonwealth Fund said that “Compared to their higher-income counterparts, relatively healthy low-income people are more likely to: Have poorer self-reported health and greater health risks. One-fifth of low-income adults report their health as fair or poor, compared to only 5 percent of higher-income adults.”
The people in these communities want to have a difficult lifestyle regarding their diet, such as greasy food and not eating non-GMO and organic food. The nearest “healthy” restaurant is more than five miles away from them. This means that they would have to go by train in order for them to find these healthier options.
The effects of eating foods that are non-organic and non-GMO would be cancer, diabetes, brain damage and obesity in which the low-income people are more at risk. Healthy options in supermarkets in low-income neighborhoods usually are unavailable, as the store owners would see no profit to them. They would most rather have them in the most popular area, which would be the city and heart of New York where they can gain more profit. The most common supermarkets in the city would be Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, where healthy foods are promoted. They have healthier options that improve the community’s health in the long term because there are fewer nontoxic chemicals.
Some of the people who live in these low-income neighborhoods are not aware of the difference between GMO and non-GMO. A customer in a supermarket called CTown in Queens is asked if they know the difference between inorganic and organic food. Their response was, “Isn’t the food that I buy organic?” The Hispanic people living in the Corona neighborhood make up 51,500 out of 82,499 total residents. Many of them really don’t understand the big difference between the foods’ labels.
“I have been wanting to eat healthier options for the health of my family and myself. It’s really far to go to from a different borough,” said Ana as she was walking around the “Mi Terria” supermarket in Queens and looking at the vegetable section. “Every day after school I would see my children eating chips and it would get me frustrated as to how they are eating unhealthy. It’s the way each bodega is placed and what they each carry. While walking into each one it can be seen: lines of chips, honey buns, and soda, juices, etc.”
This problem impacts younger children greatly. Their eyes are more attracted to chips, and there are options of healthier chips such as non-GMO chips or organic ones. But as mentioned before, many stores don’t provide healthier options, and these foods that are not GMO in kids especially have a negative impact, such as lack of concentration in school and obesity. A trip to Whole Foods on 34th Street near Bryant Park is at least a 34- to 40-minute train ride. When entering an array of organic foods can be found, such as chips, organic cookie batter—all healthy. Why are these significantly healthier foods not being found in all areas? Why not open one in smaller neighborhoods such as Corona, Queens? Everyone relies on the stores that are in their own surroundings because why would someone want to carry bags from a supermarket that is 34 to 40 minutes away?
What inspired me to do this short article was being a student who travels to Manhattan to school. I would notice the difference in stores and the quality of food. It is very easy to compare it to my area where I live.
Gissele Cuanenemi is a New Yorker who likes to enjoy the city a lot. She likes to read a lot, especially classics and romance novels. She’s a coffee lover and she likes to take walks around the city surrounded by the tall buildings. Her goal is to get into a good college and major in neuroscience while also pursuing her passion for writing.