Sunday, June 16, 2013

Need More Evidence That America is Not A Great Country – Look at Food and Nutrition in Poverty Areas

And Look At What Both Republicans and Democrats are Doing About It

The Reverend E. W. Jackson, the Republican candidate for Lt. Gov. in Virginia and a strident conservatives has said that Planned Parenthood has been worse for African Americans than the KKK.  It turns out that what is a horror for African Americans is obesity.

The US is in the grip of an obesity epidemic. More than a third of American adults – including half of African-American adults – are obese, as are one in five children, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Mississippi, at 35 per cent, has the highest obesity rate in the country.

The problem, as everyone knows, is partially but not totally related to income.  Low income people have to get the biggest calorie bang for the buck, and that means eating foods which will make a person obese.

Of course there are Food Stamps, which conservatives hate.  Are food stamps enough help?  Well consider this.

What is clear, however, is that food deserts disproportionately affect poor people. Almost a quarter of Mississippi’s population receive food stamps – government assistance amounting to $4 per person per day – and try to get the most calories for their buck.

That’s right, the huge government program to help low income people buy basic food stuffs amount to $4.00 a day.  And of course conservatives hate even that. 

Republicans say they are taking aim at a growing culture of dependency. Stephen Fincher, a Republican congressman from Tennessee, invoked Bible verses to argue in favour of the cuts during a House agriculture committee hearing last month.

“The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat,” he said, citing Thessalonians. While it was a Christian duty to care for the poor and hungry, he said it was not the government’s duty.

Mr. Fincher, of course, being a person who has received tens of thousands of dollars from the Feds for agriculture subsidies, but let’s not mention that.  And that dependency thing, wow, just think, people being dependent on food to live and be healthy, what a bunch of degenerates.

For Democrats cutting hunger assistance is also on the menu.

The Senate this week passed a $500bn, five-year farm bill that will cut the budget for food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, by $4.1bn during the next decade. And that was the proposal from the Democrats, long-time supporters of the programme.

And when New York Mayor Bloomberg suggested that access to large, sugar laden soft drinks should be limited, the reaction by conservatives was this.

Mississippi senators made their feelings about New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ban on large, sugary drinks clear. They passed a broad “anti-Bloomberg” bill in March preventing state bodies from limiting portion sizes and from banning food based on its nutritional value.

The United States allows low income people to suffer from hunger, malnutrition and obesity.  Incredible enough, there are areas of the nation termed “food deserts’ places where fresh food is either not available or very limited.

Tchula, population 2,052, is a “food desert”, a place where residents have limited – and often no – access to healthy food. Although Tchula lies on the fertile soil of the Mississippi delta and cotton and soyabean plants flourish in the fields surrounding the town, the produce on sale at the only local grocery store, the Tchula Food Center, is in varying stages of decomposition.

 And here is what the food supply looks like in a rural Mississippi grocery store.

There are three brown bananas that are only good for cake and cabbages that might have made decent coleslaw a few weeks earlier, although the potatoes are passable. But the meat fridge contains unidentifiable rounds labelled “meat dept” and the chicken sits on bloodied mats. The freezers are bursting with heat-and-eat French fries, breaded cheese sticks and “popcorn shrimp”.

For the residents of Tchula – which is 96 per cent African-American, with an unemployment rate approaching 25 per cent and no public transport – this is the only option when it comes to grocery shopping.

“In the local store, the prices are much higher,” Ms Granderson says. “They do it because they know you’re a local and if you don’t got a ride, you’re going to have to pay it.”

 Those are not the characteristics of a great country.  Heck, they are not even the characteristics of a decent country. What kind of nation has 'food deserts'?  But they are the characteristics of conservatives.  You and I see people in these situations as men and women who deserve better.  Mitt Romney sees them as the 47% leeching off of himself and his multi-millionaire buddies.  And Mitt regards himself as a deeply religious.  Imagine how the non-pious conservatives must feel and act.  

And If you need to find them, look in your local Ruth's Cris, they are the ones with the lobbyists picking up the tab.

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