The growth of commercialised food systems has transformed the meaning of food, where holding a kale smoothie has gone from an afternoon drink, to a political comment of your place in the economy (Heyen, N et. Al, 2006). The neoliberal reshaping of the food industry has fundamentally shifted the meaning of food itself to a commodity produced in surplus; supermarkets more eager for the opportunity of a greater margin than to nourish its’ customers.
This jump of power from the consumer to commercial, means the foods you can find on a budget are more likely to be in the form of a cereal box. As a representation of where and what you can buy, social standing and class have come to be defined by the logo on the front of your shopping bag (Gandy, 2004).
Starving for change
Nutrition is the key which unlocks wider opportunities; education, job security and health all elements which balance on the ability to access healthy food. Without this access, many are locked behind doors of opportunity.
The consequences of poor diets traps communities into cycles of poverty (skipping a meal, could result in skipping the next pay check), a burden which falls on the plates of minority communities. The proportion of black adolescents suffering from obesity rising by 120% since the 1980s, a rate twice that of white adolescents (Heynen, Kurtz and Trauger, 2012).
As families pay for the consequences of a food insecurity in both their pockets and stomachs, the entanglement of nature into the socio-political dynamics of New York has transformed ‘food’ from a basic human right, to a conversation of political and historical legacy. Issues of nutrition are not simply an a question of whats’ on peoples plates, but the flow of ecological resources should be bought to the table of politics to ensure food equity through our cities.
Berg, J., 2019. The Affordability Crisis And Hunger. New York City Hunger Report. [online] New York. Available at: <https://www.hungerfreeamerica.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/2019%20NY%20Hunger%20Report.pdf> [Accessed 6 November 2020].
Cooksey-Stowers, K., Schwartz, M. and Brownell, K., 2017. Food Swamps Predict Obesity Rates Better Than Food Deserts in the United States. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(11), p.1366.
Gandy, M., 2004. Rethinking urban metabolism: water, space and the modern city. City, 8(3), pp.363-379.
Heynen, N., Kurtz, H. and Trauger, A., 2012. Food Justice, Hunger and the City. Geography Compass, 6(5), pp.304-311.
Heynen, N., Kaika, M. and Swyngedouw, E., 2005. In The Nature Of Cities. London: Routledge.
Johnson, C., 2019. GROWING FOOD EQUITY IN NEW YORK CITY: A City Council Agenda. [online] New York: NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL. Available at: <http://council.nyc.gov/data/wp-content/uploads/sites/73/2019/08/growing-food-equity-1.pdf> [Accessed 6 November 2020].
Levinton, D., 2019. Food Deserts in New York City. [Blog] storymaps.arcgis, Available at: <https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/c6696d73c28c4f7aa8a840c5fdc8949b> [Accessed 6 November 2020].
USDA. 2020. Economic Research Service. [online] Available at: <https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-access-research-atlas/documentation/#changes> [Accessed 6 November 2020].