Wholesome Wave’s newest program, Fruit & Veggie Rx makes the connection between community doctors, food access, and farmers. In this Atlantic.com column, Michel addresses some common misperceptions about at-risk communities and their desire for healthful food.
Doctors as Farmers: How Food ‘Prescriptions’ Can Save Our Cities:
“…The choice for an underserved community member isn’t between a chicken and vegetable dinner and a Happy Meal. It’s between a $2.00 head of cauliflower and a $1.69 four-pack of instant noodles.
It’s not about laziness, addiction, lack of cooking skills, or sugar soda. Affordability is the key issue, and, if it is left unaddressed, large supermarkets, unable to resist millions in new tax credits, will be put in the position of opening and then having to close when tax benefits wear off. They have fled before, and they will flee again if affordability isn’t addressed.
So, here’s the real deal in these neighborhoods: An obese guy goes to the community health center. The doc advises him to eat more fruits and veggies and to exercise. The guy looks at his food budget and decides he can’t afford better food. Exercise only makes him hungrier and the food he can afford keeps him fat. He gives up and eventually gets sick. He goes back to the doc and is diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. The doc prescribes a brand-name diabetes drug because the producer of the drug sees value in providing it to people who lack health insurance—no generic drugs here. And why not? The company gets reimbursed under the traditional health care legislation by some of good chunk of that $800 billion. What a great business plan! I’d love to give away food to my customers and get paid by the government. I wouldn’t have an empty seat in the house! No wonder some folks didn’t want health care reform…”