I haven’t been watching TV news that much this week and I might have missed it in the paper but a little birdie told me that two human vertebrae were found in an alley in the NW section of the TC this week.
My first job, at the age of 16, was a cashier at the large chain grocery store in town. Think something like Shopper’s or Safeway. I worked there off an on till I was about 20. So when I was reading the Post’s District Extra article “Healthful Foods Not An Option For Many” I was trying to think back to those cashier days and remember what did the people buy? Did they buy a lot of fresh veggies? I know they bought a lot of meat. That I remember vividly. Tomatoes. Iceberg Lettuce. Collards and Mustard Greens. Cucumbers, yes. Fresh broccoli, not that often. I kind of doubt that WIC checks that passed through my line mentioned any fresh foods. A quick list of the CT WIC program shows that the only fresh veggie listed is 4lbs of carrots, but that can be substituted with 4 cans of carrots. Of course, food stamps gave more leeway. Still, meat was the preferred product of the stamp holder. But the good thing about WIC was it forced the holder to pick healthier juices and foods.
Also the director of DC Hunger Solutions mentions several items that stores, in areas where there isn’t a decent grocery store, don’t have. Things like skim milk, whole wheat bread and brown rice, healthier options. Whole wheat bread and brown rice, I had to acquire a taste for those things, particularly after being raised where white rice and Wonder bread were king. Southern food, although very tasty, bad for you. Fry everything! With solid Crisco. Season with pork. White rice. Grits. Super sweet tea. Yum. Brown rice, whole wheat bread I don’t think of them as part of the great tradition of southern food. There might be a cultural disconnect. The citizen who goes to the Popeye’s more than she goes to a store for healthier food, might do so because Popeye’s might be more familiar, cheaper and more convenient (no dish washing, prep work or cooking). Looking at the Popeye’s menu, sides include corn, red beans, potatoes, green beans and collards. Unfortunately, the salt content is way up there for those items.
Problem with the healthful option besides being not available is that I don’t think people have been sold on it enough to buy the healthy options when they do make an appearance. I noticed one store mentioned they lost money on fresh veggies, which spoil faster than your regular bag of chips. Lucky, there is a farmer’s market in Anacostia. Sadly, that is only for part of the year and one may have to pass several more convenient fast and low priced options before getting to it.