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Fighting Food Deserts in Los Angeles

Public health analysts and justice activists are tackling food deserts in a state known for its agricultural output. Low-income neighborhoods of color are the hardest hit by a lack of grocery options.
March 20, 2015, 8am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Nicholas Eckhart

Bobbi Murray profiles the food deserts of Los Angeles: neighborhoods where the nearest large grocery store lies more than a mile away. Food inequality, and associated health problems like obesity and diabetes, follows in the path of poverty. From the article: "Stores with the $15 cold-pressed juices (with a shot of turmeric) get Yelped. Less so are those stores in neighborhoods where the lettuce, if any, is wilted and unappetizing, and the 99-cent Flamin' Hot Cheetos are close to the register."

Analysts from public health organizations like Community Health Councils (CHC) see a perfect storm in California's food deserts: cheap, unhealthy options close to home and expensive, healthy choices far away. Obesity becomes rampant: residents look well-fed, but they are really malnourished. 

In the face of this problem, which affects neighborhoods like South L.A., Historic Filipino Town, Boyle Heights, and Southeast L.A., "CHC and allies are pursuing a number of community-based approaches to re-organizing L.A.'s food system, including more inner-city farmers markets and a strategy to bring more supermarkets into South L.A. They have fought to set limits on the number of fast-food restaurants in South L.A."

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Published on Monday, March 2, 2015 in Pacific Standard
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