Fast food is comforting, but in low-income areas it crowds out fresher options

loading...

Fast food is comforting, but in low-income areas it crowds out fresher options
Cars lined up on April 18, 2020 to receive groceries from the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank during the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Many Americans take comfort in the routine of jumping into the car and grabbing a burger. They choose restaurants with familiar faces behind the counter. They even yearn for a favorite “greasy spoon” diner while having to cook for themselves at home during COVID-19.

People feel emotionally attached to food and the routines associated with it. These rituals provide a sense of comfort and belonging—even if the meal is from a fast-food restaurant and they stood in line for it.

I study food security in California’s Central Valley, which is, ironically, one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world. Food security means maintaining reliable, consistent access to food. It requires time and resources that are often scarce in food-insecure households.

Many people in the food-rich Central Valley experience a high degree of food insecurity. They rely more heavily on fast and prepared foods for sustenance and comfort than the general population.

The powerful relationship between people’s attachment to fast-food restaurants and their inability to get creates a downward spiral. Corporate fast-food chains undermine by weakening local control over food production. In turn, diminished over food production perpetuates food insecurity. Now, when COVID-19 has changed routines so much, I see an opportunity to break the cycle.

Fast-food restaurants as ‘third places’

People develop strong emotional bonds to places that they return to again and again.My research shows that these bonds can extend to gardening, agriculture and food preparation, like cooking or hunting.

People also form bonds with restaurants they frequent. Restaurants can function as “third places,” a term coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg that describes safe spaces for conversation and community. Community gardens and cultural centers are often third places. Oldenburg built this idea off of “first places” and “second places” to describe where people find comfort or familiarity outside home or work.

Fast-food restaurants can also serve as third places. Older adults frequently socialize and relax there. Ambiance in restaurants has expanded beyond fast and convenient to homey and welcoming, providing amenities like complementary WiFi for those who wish to linger. The Starbucks barista who knows your name keeps many people coming back for single-shot espressos or group meetups.

Fast food is a staple for the food-insecure

Food-insecure families report facing challenges purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables, including high costs relative to their household budgets. Lack of time and resources for meal preparation also contribute to food insecurity, along with racial segregation and poverty.

For all of these reasons, many low-income and food-insecure households rely on fast-food restaurants. Fast food offers perceived value to consumers who can get a lot of food for the price, though it may be more expensive than fresh food.

Worldwide, single-parent households are more likely to experience food insecurity. Single parents are also likely to work multiple jobs and have time constraints on home meal preparation. Students, the disabled and the elderly often lack physical space and storage space for home meal preparation, and resort to fast food and pre-prepared meals.





South Memphis, Tenn., is a food desert, dominated by fast-food outlets and convenience stores.

Food insecurity in California’s Central Valley

In fall 2019 and spring 2020, graduate research assistants and I surveyed at the University of California-Merced about food security and food-restaurant attachment. Many U.S. undergraduate students are consistently food insecure for a number of reasons, including resource and time constraints.

Our students are a resilient bunch: 73.2% are first generation college students, 63.8% are Pell Grant recipients from low-income households, and more than 90% self-describe as non-white. Ironically, many students come from families who harvest the food that feeds our nation. They often hold more than one job while attending classes full-time, in order to make ends meet.

In preliminary results from our survey, 25% of students said that at least once a week they go all day without eating because they are too busy. 20% report that at least weekly they can’t afford healthy or nutritious food. About 37% report lacking access to healthy food even when they know about supplemental food resources such as CalFresh.

Not surprisingly, 80% of respondents make their food decisions based upon price. However, 75% of students base their choices on convenience and access to food. Nearly 70% report selecting food for familiarity, comfort, or importance to culture, identity or lifestyle. More than 60% stated that they eat at their favorite restaurant—often a fast-food establishment—because it’s comforting.

Crowding out local control

Fast-food restaurants aren’t only problematic because of their calorie-rich menus. They are heavily concentrated businesses. Ten companies own more than 50 of the biggest chains in the world. Many franchises have multiple owners, most of whom are unlikely to reside in the community. So local communities fail to control the food system.

Concentrated purchasing power controls how food is grown and traded across the world. A basic tenet of my discipline, agricultural economics, is that international trade can benefit all. But in fact, disproportionate corporate power over the food system has created “food deserts” where people can’t get healthy food.

Building new routines

Food and restaurants forge emotional bonds. It’s complicated. Fast-food habits have become a “normal part” of U.S. culture, and the most vulnerable populations often lack time and resources to break this routine.

Rather than criticize such decisions, I believe society can build new food pathways. For example, in response to COVID-19 some communities are connecting charities with restaurants to cook and deliver meals to the food insecure. In California, CropMobster Exchange matches locally grown food with those who need it.

After being home bound, home cooked meals can become a habit once again. Americans are reportedly becoming more confident in their cooking and eating more healthy foods as a result of pandemic stay-at-home directives. There is also renewed awareness of the food safety benefits of cooking at home, and the value of maintaining a local food supply.

These insights open the door for communities to better control how food is produced, processed and prepared. Many Americans have started COVID-19 victory gardens. In some places, community freezers and pantries offer an easy way to donate directly to people who need it.

In my community, where fruit trees are abundant, you can donate your surplus produce to the Merced County Food Bank or volunteer for its gleaning program Picking for a Purpose. More creative thinking like this can help create new bonds and routines that make it easier for communities to feed themselves.


Coronavirus pandemic worsens food insecurity for low-income adults


Provided by
The Conversation


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.The Conversation

Citation:
Fast food is comforting, but in low-income areas it crowds out fresher options (2020, June 29)
retrieved 29 June 2020
from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2020-06-fast-food-comforting-low-income-areas.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.



loading...
(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Related posts:

FBI chief says China is blackmailing dissenters in US to force them back home
Study explores if insurance is keeping pace with trends in targeted cancer therapy
Two studies look at COVID-19 in patients who have received kidney transplants or are undergoing dial...
Trump's niece brands him a liar and a cheat in new book, White House cries foul
Twins joined at head separated at Vatican pediatric hospital
Increase in delirium, rare brain inflammation and stroke linked to COVID-19
Trump moves to formally withdraw US from World Health Organisation
Chile tops 300,000 virus cases, plans to lift lockdown
Welcome, Robin the AI robot
Revamped French government takes office, tasked with restoring coronavirus-hit economy
Herzinfarktpatienten während der Coronavirus-Pandemie: Gefährliche Angst vor dem Virus
Policies fall short on expanding access to birth control
Was bleibt vom Applaus für die Krankenhäuser?
Unique tool paves the way for more individualized cancer treatments
„Leere Klinikambulanzen“? KBV-Vorstand wundert sich über Selbstwahrnehmung der DKG
French feminists criticise choice of justice, interior ministers over sexism and rape claims
Can the Trauma of War Lead to Growth, Despite the Scars?
Better treatment for people with inflammatory bowel disease
New app launched to battle swarms
Hoher Cholesterinspiegel? Besser Kohlenhydrate sparen als ungesättigte Fettsäuren
Deutsche Bank fined $150 million for failing to flag Jeffrey Epstein accounts
Novavax Gets $1.6 Billion for Coronavirus Vaccine From Operation Warp Speed
Researchers create air filter that can kill the coronavirus
Covid-19 pandemic accelerating and global peak still to come, WHO says
Nicht invasive Diagnostik bei Verdacht auf KHK: IQWiG sieht aussagekräftige Evidenz
Brazil's President Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus
‘It Will Consume Your Life’: 4 Families Take On Rare Diseases
Europe coronavirus deaths top 200,000
Libya’s civil war leaves Sahara community without gas, electricity or water
Hilfe bei Diabetes - Biermann Medizin
Live Coronavirus Updates: Testing Demand in U.S. Soars
Types of flu people encounter in childhood may affect susceptibility to different flu strains later ...
Aerobes Training am Morgen bessert Schlaf nach Herz-Bypass
Patient Is Reported Free of H.I.V., but Scientists Urge Caution
One million epilepsy patients in China missing out on beneficial surgery
Wegweiser für die Wundheilung: Erstmals Kleeblattpeptid synthetisiert
A Shot to Protect Against H.I.V.
Improved cancer immunotherapies require radical CAR overhaul
Accident or sabotage? What we know of incident at Iran's Natanz nuclear site
Rheuma: Herz und Gefäße leiden oft mit
Mumbai opens new hospitals as India virus deaths top 20,000
Star lawyer Dupond-Moretti named justice minister in French reshuffle surprise
BÄK-Präsident Reinhardt fordert "Digitalisierungsschub" - Biermann Medizin
Fighting E. coli with E. coli
Atypische Kehlkopfinfektionen - Biermann Medizin
French economy to shrink 10% as EU forecasts deeper hit from Covid-19
View mask refusers like drink drivers: leading scientist
Second Act: Will Macron reshuffle set a new course?
Alzheimer: Abnormale Proteine wandern vom Darm ins Gehirn
Italy's La Scala opera house reopens after four-month shutdown
Beijing reports zero virus cases for first time since new outbreak
TikTok to exit Hong Kong market as security law curbs online freedoms
Universität Halle-Wittenberg: Dierks verstärkt Krebsforschung
Australia's second-biggest city under new virus lockdown
Das Human Brain Project startet in die finale Phase
Israel reimposes restrictions amid new surge in coronavirus cases
Johnson and Johnson cuts price of anti-TB tablets
High-End-Mikroskopie weiter verfeinert
How Safe Are Outdoor Gatherings?
Most primary care providers screening toddlers for autism
Airborne Coronavirus: What You Should Do Now
Health expenditures considerable for asthma, COPD in U.S. workers
WHO reviewing study on concerns over airborne spread of Covid-19
A New Generation of Coronavirus Tests Is Coming. Here's What to Expect.
With pandemic-related stress, abuse against kids can surge
In Nick Cordero’s Death, a Reminder of Covid-19’s Unknowns
Pompeo calls China's censorship moves in Hong Kong 'Orwellian'
Will the COVID-19 pandemic leave a mental health crisis in its wake?
China gives Hong Kong police sweeping security surveillance powers under new law
Months after infection, many COVID-19 patients can't shake illness
US says foreign students whose classes move online due to Covid-19 have to leave
Brazil's Bolsonaro takes Covid-19 test after showing symptoms
Coronavirus ups anxiety, depression in the LGBTQ community
Migrants leave Ocean Viking rescue ship in Sicily after more than a week at sea
Probiotics alone or combined with prebiotics may help ease depression
Common inherited genetic variant identified as frequent cause of deafness in adults
Outcomes similar for COVID-19 in patients with, without HIV
Ordnung durch Unordnung: Wie Zufall und kollektive Bewegung eine Stammzelle definieren
Black patients have higher rates of death after PCI
Who's who in Macron's revamped cabinet
Neues Bestrahlungsgerät für kleinste Tumore in Dresdner Zentrum
Puerto Rico reports record 530 new cases; data questioned
Diagnose Krebs – Mitten im Leben: Beratungsangebot für junge Krebspatienten in Stuttgart
India surges to third-highest number of global coronavirus cases
Study paves way for earlier autism diagnosis in Indiana
Critics say choice of Castex as new PM reveals a Macron power grab
Darmbakterien verbessern Prognose von Typ-2-Diabetes
France's new Prime Minister Jean Castex unveils reshuffled cabinet
Kids are lagging and COVID-19 is harming care
Patientenverband kritisiert IQWiG-Bericht zur Prostata-Fusionsbiopsie
Climate change blamed for surge in India's deadly lightning strikes
Coronavirus has forced doctors, insurers to embrace telemedicine like never before
Hong Kong govt orders schools to remove books breaching new security law
DGU-Präsident: „Wir müssen das Reha-Loch für unsere Patienten schließen“
Complications from COVID-19 may depend on von Willebrand factor in the blood
Bei chronischer GERD nicht routinemäßig auf ein EAC screenen
Trial wraps up for French drugmaker in deadly diet-pill scandal
Sewage can help track pandemic virus trends
Lockdown in Colombia leads to spike in domestic violence
ESHRE 2020: Krebstherapie muss für junge Frauen nicht das ende der Fertilität bedeuten

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Post

293 femra e 295 meshkuj aktiv me Covid-19 në Prishtinë

Mon Jun 29 , 2020
Në komunën e Prishtinës janë 444 raste aktive me Covid19. Kështu ka bërë të ditur drejtori i Shëndetësisë në këtë komunë, Bujar Gashi. Statistikat tregojnë se nga totali prej 588 rasteve janë 293 femra dhe 295 meshkuj. Ja postimi i plotë i tij: (Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)Related posts:FBI […]
Lajm i mirë: Veterniku së shpejti me Qendër të Mjekësisë Familjare