Shocker: FLOTUS’s plan to weed out “food deserts” failing to bear much fruit

posted at 2:41 pm on May 7, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

As a part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign, the government-funded endeavor to curb childhood obesity within a generation, First Lady Michelle Obama has lectured upon the necessity of eliminating “food deserts.” Mrs. Obama argues that these urban and rural communities, where the supply of wholesome foods and fresh produce is ostensibly very limited, are a direct cause of unhealthy lifestyle habits. If we would only subsidize easier access to more nutritious foods, she reasons, the people in these communities would use their newfound options to diversify their dinner plates, and hey, problem solved! Unfortunately, like most centrally-planned projects designed to impose top-down virtue, the First Lady’s plan isn’t really taking root, reports Bloomberg:

After vowing to open more than 1,000 stores selling fresh fruit and vegetables in underserved urban neighborhoods, or “food deserts,” grocers have opened a fraction of them, putting in jeopardy Michelle Obama’s effort to improve food choices for low-income Americans.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), which said last July it would have 300 food-desert stores nationwide by 2016, has opened 23 and delayed opening some locations after a backlash from activists. Supervalu Inc. (SVU), which pledged to double to 2,376 its Save-A-Lot stores, has slowed the pace of openings amid declining sales and scarce financing for its licensees. Meanwhile, grocers are opening stores in wealthier urban enclaves.

Food desert locations, by definition, aren’t profitable, according to Nelson Lichtenstein, director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at the University of California at Santa Barbara. …

Shoppers who live in low-income city neighborhoods “don’t fill up a basket and spend $100, they buy $10,” said Lichtenstein, who wrote “The Retail Revolution: How Wal-Mart Created a Brave New World of Business.”

This is yet another example of nanny-state bureaucrats ignoring the laws of supply and demand and attacking the symptoms instead of the disease. First of all, last month the New York Times reported on a study that not only dismissed a correlation between food-desert locations and obesity rates, but also demonstrated that low-income neighborhoods are typically awash in food options, including nutritious foods. So, that’s your basic premise out the window right there.

Secondly, if there really aren’t many healthy foods to be found in these areas, it’s only because there isn’t a market for them. For whatever reason, people in these areas do not want to buy fresh-caught scallops and broccoli sprouts. The likeliest over-arching explanation is indeed low-income levels — having the time and money to plan, shop for, and cook nice healthful meals is a luxury that comes with prosperity — but spending taxpayer money to merely improve access to these communities’ foods isn’t going to change that.

If the Obama administration really wanted to improve Americans’ nutritional intake, they’d stop with the costly small-beans band-aids and instead look for ways to support the robust, flourishing economy that is the only true full-scale remedy for weeding out the problems of poverty. Hint: higher taxes, an unprecedented regulatory agenda, and meddling legislative hack jobs like ObamaCare don’t make the list.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

The funniest thing is that Alcatraz is listed as a Food Desert site.

DaveO on May 7, 2012 at 5:10 PM

We had to have a school lunch and nutrition program because children were starving and couldn’t do well in school. Now the kids are still not doing well in school but they are all fat.

Hmmm….clearly someone isn’t making good choices here. I wonder who it is?

Lily on May 7, 2012 at 5:11 PM

(it’s not food)
(it’s not dessert)
.
.
.…it’s the ECONOMY stupid…!!!

KOOLAID2 on May 7, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Michelle Obama is a horrible human being who does not care about peoples access to food. She sucks donkey balls.

tom daschle concerned on May 7, 2012 at 5:51 PM

You will have to demonstrate to me, with multiple videos produced by people of different political bents, multiple 40-year studies by different universities and think tanks, and hundreds of thousands of signed affidavits certified by Price Waterhouse, that there are places in America where healthy food choices really aren’t available.

This allegation ought to have a functional meaning that could be disproven, but it doesn’t seem to. Where’s Breitbart when we need him? $100K to the first guy who can demonstrate that there’s a community in the United States that literally doesn’t have access to healthy food.

J.E. Dyer on May 7, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Maybe, just maybe, when Moochelle says “Let’s Move” she is talking to her husband about going back to where they came from.

Just a conservative wet dream, but just maybe….

NOMOBO on May 7, 2012 at 5:56 PM

NEWSFLASH: It costs a LOT less to cook your own food than to have somebody else cook it for you, freeze it and shrink wrap it for your convenience.

And where did this insane and idiotic myth about America’s poor people working 60-hour weeks come from?

Only if you maintain the flow of ingredients and avoid spoilage.

I know a number of these folks. There are many who are lazy/discouraged/completely incapable of holding down a job. There are others who scramble every day to make ends meet. I have known many who work 60-hour weeks.

Prufrock on May 7, 2012 at 5:58 PM

You will have to demonstrate to me, with multiple videos produced by people of different political bents, multiple 40-year studies by different universities and think tanks, and hundreds of thousands of signed affidavits certified by Price Waterhouse, that there are places in America where healthy food choices really aren’t available.

Downtown Detroit. I walked around the whole area around the ballpark looking for somewhere to sell me an apple and some milk, one evening a few years ago. It was VERY depressing.

You can get to places… but it’s a long bus ride if you’re not mobile. Many, many people can’t afford a car.

These places exist. FLOTUS’ solution will not work, though. If the market were viable, the store would exist. Since it’s not, throwing money at the problem is a waste. Fix the underlying problems first.

Prufrock on May 7, 2012 at 6:02 PM

It isn’t the calorie / fats / sugar / lack of fresh veggies. It is the lack of exertion in relation to what goes in the mouth. And perhaps making it harder to obtain food stamps and spending money might help resolve the obesity problem. Growing up on the farm, we didn’t have fresh veggies when the garden wasn’t producing. Our diet contained lots of carbs, sugar and – horrors – white flour and raw whole milk. The entire family worked hard and had no weight problem at all.

Oleta on May 7, 2012 at 6:10 PM

In these “food deserts”, is an animal shelter considered an oasis by the Obama Administration?

malclave on May 7, 2012 at 6:13 PM

In these “food deserts”, is an animal shelter considered an oasis by the Obama Administration?

malclave on May 7, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Q : What does Obama call Purina Puppy Chow ?
A : Fertilizer

burrata on May 7, 2012 at 6:25 PM

As far as grocery stores being profitable in the cities-where I live, two stores closed down in the small city nearby due to shoplifting, vandalizm and break-ins. Attempts were made by other companies who faced the same challenges. Those stores remain empty and people have to drive or take a bus out of the city for food shopping.
hopeful on May 7, 2012 at 4:24 PM

I’m pretty sure nobody was breaking in to steal potatoes.

There are at least as many robberies of convenience stores, but they stay in business because their profit margin is a lot higher than grocery stores.

Starving people will line up for bags of rice, even at the risk of the occasional pot shot. But people who are used to eating pre-cooked meals aren’t going to stick out their hands, let alone their money, for flour and canned peas.

logis on May 7, 2012 at 6:27 PM

There probably isn’t much of a market for fresh food in progressive dystopias anyway. There needs to be cooking skills and the desire to eat the food. Who needs arugula, veggies and rice when you can get a $1 McDouble or a $2 burrito at the bodega?

forest on May 7, 2012 at 8:10 PM

Hint: higher taxes, an unprecedented regulatory agenda, and meddling legislative hack jobs like ObamaCare don’t make the list.

In other words, this is exactly how the Dems will hit this. More regulations and a “fat tax” along with many other little things to drive up the prices of what they deem as unhealthy food.

Look, if I severed my kids broccoli sprouts for dinner… they would throw them back at me, heck I may even do the same for myself. Canned corn will do just fine, along with some pre packaged fruit. Longer shelf life and heca cheaper.

watertown on May 7, 2012 at 8:44 PM

Well, I guess we’ll just have to start supplying low income, inner city shoppers with the means to put $100 in their shopping carts, won’t we.

SukieTawdry on May 7, 2012 at 9:20 PM

As a part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign,

I find that slogan highly offensive coming from an unelected and what has always been ceremonial, honorary role.

Michelle Obama, if I may:
1) You are not my high school gym teacher,
2) You are not a marine corp[se] drill instructor,
3) You are not a police officer working an emergency evacuation,
4) You are not my elementary school principal

However,
1) I am an American
2) I am an American who treasures liberty and freedom
3) I am an American who treasures my liberty and freedom and I will move when I darned well determine I want to move

Therefore, you can take your imperative “Let’s Move!” command and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

AZfederalist on May 7, 2012 at 10:43 PM

There probably isn’t much of a market for fresh food in progressive dystopias anyway. There needs to be cooking skills and the desire to eat the food. Who needs arugula, veggies and rice when you can get a $1 McDouble or a $2 burrito at the bodega?

forest on May 7, 2012 at 8:10 PM

This is the underlying problem. Just TRY convincing a junk-food addict that it’s cheaper to buy and cook meals than it is to go buy every other meal at Burger King. In one ear and out the !@$#ing other.

It’s why the campaign to make kids eat healthy food in public schools is running into a brick wall. The little yard apes have been fed greasy junk food for years (often AT school), turn up their noses at anything else, and neither the school staff nor their parents will make them do otherwise.

MelonCollie on May 7, 2012 at 11:15 PM

— having the time and money to plan, shop for, and cook nice healthful meals is a luxury that comes with prosperity —

Bullhockey. Preparing foods from scratch is the cheapest method in terms of monetary cost. Where it gets expensive is in opportunity cost. These people don’t want to take the time to cook, or to shop. Getting a meal from Popeye’s or Wendy’s or Taco Bell is so much easier than cooking up some fried chicken or burgers or burritos at home.
Of course, a crock pot eases that opportunity cost significantly. Oh, and having a two-parent family, so one can cook/clean/parent while the other one works helps even more.
The problem is *not* their monetary poverty, but their poverty of character.

GWB on May 8, 2012 at 6:24 AM

Eat your damn arugula and carrot sticks.

Me?

I’ll eat my Twinkies and HoHo’s.

coldwarrior on May 8, 2012 at 7:25 AM

Next on the FLOTUS tour of America… you will hear about home delivery services….. from the farm to your table give a loud….. Glory Ha-la-lu-ya to Barack! It will come with a chef to cook your meal and a server to cut it up and put it in your mouth and a maid, to clean up the dishes and kitchen.

If I didn’t have a reality based brain… I’d kinda like the idea of being a delusional democrat.

“Let’s Move”… The Obama’s… back to Chicago…… PLEASE!

ActinUpinTexas on May 8, 2012 at 12:02 PM

Comment pages: 1 2