Searching for a purpose

24 Jun

As I write the first entry for this blog, I’m at a loss to find a succinct purpose for beginning without resorting to statistics. Horrific, frightening statistics, such as:

“Obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the United States – triple the rate from just one generation ago…”

“In 2009, only Colorado and the District of Columbia had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%…”

“An estimated 32.7 percent of U.S. adults 20 years and older are overweight, 34.3 percent are obese and 5.9 percent are extremely obese…”

“The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are staggering. In 2008 dollars, these costs totaled about $147 billion…”

(All quotes from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/index.html)

But the statistics are only a small portion of the obesity equation, and none of them address the sources of the problem. Yes, as a society we are less mobile. We are more stressed. We are overworked, overtired, and overwhelmed with the number of decisions we have to make every day — including one of the most important decisions we make: what we put in our bodies. It is so easy to reach for the quick fix, the drive thru, the convienience foods. All of which compound the problem. So what do we do about it?

There are the questions of taste, of affordability, of culture, of temptation. In a world where industrialized countries still search for ways to water food deserts with fresh produce, where family-owned farms have been replaced by corporate food factories, and restaurants use toys to market a full day’s worth of calories to toddlers, is the whole system rotten from the root up? And, more pressing yet, is there any way around it? How far off the grid does one have to go to eat well, and on budget? How much time and effort does that really take?

This is the story of one couple (and two pugs) trying to answer those questions.

We are more fortunate than some — despite living in Allegheny County (which a recent study found leads the state of Pennsylvania in number of USDA identified food deserts), we reside in a zip code categorized as a “food oasis”. Though it remains a low-income neighborhood overall, enough gentrification has set in to provide more options for obtaining healthy foods. Within a slightly-less than three mile radius from our home (10 minute city drive or approximately 20 minute bus ride), are a Giant Eagle Market District, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and numerous family-owned meat/bakery/produce shops. We also have access to multiple City Parks farmer’s markets and Pittsburgh’s Strip District, as well as city delivery farm shares. We are childless, middle class, white and college-educated — all which, according to the CDC’s statistics, make us less at risk for food insecurity.

So this may not be the most scientific experiment, or the most original blog. However, it is the personal account of two people who have chosen to be concious of what they are eating, and who are desperately curious about how that stacks up financially against those who choose otherwise.

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