Could America’s poorest be smartest about foods?

Articles
January 05, 2010

Could America’s poorest be smartest about foods?

Have you ever ‘sized up’ other shoppers’ carts and admired those who show nutritional disciplines – not a junk food blemish in their entire purchase?

Have you ever ‘sized up’ other shoppers’ carts and admired those who show nutritional disciplines – not a junk food blemish in their entire purchase? Have you been tempted to approach them and ask how they do it? Would you be surprised to learn that many of those shoppers might be among the nation’s poorest economically? Would that shatter some of your preconceived notions about who knows enough to eat wisely and acts on it?

Well, we believe at SupermarketGuru.com that the poorest people in America could soon evolve into the healthiest people in America. Why?  Because many of them receive constant guidance and reinforcement from the Federal government: every month when WIC (Womens Infants Children) recipients renew their benefit cards, they are exposed to a 30-minute course on how to eat healthy.

Of course, this effort is driven by money (so benefits go only toward authorized purchases that are nutritionally sound) and enforced by technology (unauthorized items won’t scan at the checkout). We applaud this approach. Especially considering the nation’s obesity epidemic and the surge in Type 2 diabetes often brought on by poor diets, it’s clearly time for more informed dialogue around the kitchen table.

If parents in all economic groups truly don’t know the right choices to make, they can’t teach their children. Others might be lazy about enforcing good food rules at home. Whichever the reason, SupermarketGuru.com encourages the replication of the WIC nutritional information for everyone. The easier the access, the better.

Meanwhile, food banks desperate for donations of healthy food, not just calories that quell hunger, are teaching farmers that fruits and vegetables thought to be not attractive enough for retail sale are still quite edible (think ears of corn that are short or missing kernels, or tiny melons, for example). How much are food banks reaping for the needy with this philosophy – which is also a good lesson for all consumers?

“This year, Farm to Family, a program of the California Association of Food Banks, will secure 87 million pounds of seasonal produce, some donated but most of it purchased for pennies on the dollar, for 44 food banks all over California,” Ron Clark, the CAFB food sourcing and logistics manager, told the Los Angeles Times.

The better educated we all are about foods that could help or hurt us, the sooner we’ll be on a corrective course to become fitter, produce more, compete better, and lead healthier, more vibrant lives. If that means learning lessons from some unexpected sources, that’s fine with us.