Living In A Food Desert

Share this story:

The closest store to my house in Rodeo, California is Rodeo Grocery.  When you hear “Rodeo Grocery,” you would think it’s a grocery store that has healthy food options like fruit, vegetables and other ingredients you can buy to make a meal at home. In actuality, it’s what most people consider to be a corner store.

When I first moved to Rodeo, this corner store did sell fresh fruit and vegetables.  I remember being able to walk into the store and buy some apples or even a bunch of bananas. Over time, the store got rid of all the fresh fruit because it spoiled too quickly, but they continued to sell candy, chips and soda.

Many people may wonder where the “real” grocery store  is in Rodeo. There is a Safeway, but it’s a 15 minute walk from most neighborhoods, so the majority of people make the choice to go to the corner store for food that is cheap, fast and easy. Recently, I was walking to Safeway and I realized that I walked past three corner stores on my way. There are so many different places you can buy unhealthy foods, but there’s only one place where you can get fresh fruits and vegetables in my neighborhood.

Researchers have begun to study why children, teens, and adults in certain neighborhoods have higher rates of health problems like obesity and Type II Diabetes. According to UCSF,  Type II Diabetes has rapidly increased among young people, affecting 50% of African Americans in their lifetime.

The geographic location of  where people live can affect their health, not just because of unhealthy eating habits, but because they don’t have access to healthy food options. This is a growing issue for communities of color and something needs to be done, not just for the health of my neighborhood in Rodeo, but for all communities.

Check out this map of Contra Costa County, where I live, shaded according to how many fruit and vegetable markets there are per 100,000 people.

Access to fruits and vegetable markets is under 1.1 per 100,000 people in Contra Costa County.


Listen Now