More on food deserts:
"Making groceries" in a New Orleans food desert
LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and is a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs.
Over the past year we've heard a lot about class warfare, the "Buffett Rule" and the tax code and so on. But if you want to see a blatant form of poor vs. rich, walk into a grocery store. Here we are forced to decide between what's good for our kids and what we can afford to feed them.
The restaurants and grocery stores in the District of Columbia provide residents, workers and visitors with ample access to healthy, seasonal foods. As a result, it’s hard for many people to imagine the stark contrast to many of D.C.'s poorest neighborhoods, which have little or no daily access to fresh food.
According to the D.C. Department of Health, 55% of District residents are overweight or obese - including nearly half of all children. In some neighborhoods, the rate of overweight and obesity exceeds 70%. Lack of access to healthy food options in the lowest income communities has been cited as a major contributor to the crisis.
For the 23 million Americans who live in food deserts, Michelle Obama's announcement today may be a ray of sunshine. As part of her "Let's Move" campaign, the First Lady is joining forces with leaders from major retailers, foundations and small businesses committing to provide access to healthy, affordable food to people in underserved communities.
In an address broadcast live today on the White House's website, Mrs. Obama announced that nationwide food retailers including SUPERVALU, Walgreens, Walmart and other regional retailers will open or expand over 1,500 stores in areas that need it most.
America's national image may be one of waving wheat fields and overflowing platters, but the reality for many communities is much less plentiful. A new interactive map built by the United States Department of Agriculture allows users to locate the food deserts in their neighborhood and across the country, simply by typing in an address or zip code.
Here's how the USDA explains the term:
In light of both the class action lawsuit alleging that Taco Bell's "seasoned beef" is in fact insufficiently beefy and the USDA's new dietary guidelines, Newsroom's Kyra Phillips and I chatted about the role of personal responsibility when it comes to your nutritional intake. (That is assuming that you're lucky enough to have a choice in the matter - as author Lawrence Ross pointed out on Twitter.)
Knowledge is power, but are you harnessing it for yourself?
The largest grocery chain in the country has announced an extensive five-year plan to make its food healthier and more affordable. Walmart, which serves roughly 140 million consumers a week, announced the initiative as a collaboration between its corporation and first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign.
"To more and more of our customers, living better means the ability to walk into our stores and find foods that will help their families live healthier lives," said Leslie Dach, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Walmart. "And importantly, to find these foods at prices they can afford."
Saving money and living better do not always go together when it comes to food. Often highly processed foods rich in sodium, trans-fats, or added sugars are less expensive, and thus more affordable, than fresh produce. Access to healthy foods is also an issue; so-called "food deserts" exist throughout the country, leaving many Americans with minimal access to healthy fare.
Areas devoid of fresh food outlets, like Newark, New Jersey, have been deemed "food deserts."
As part of the Newark Fresh Foods Program, the Small Grocer Initiative helps small-scale food marts in Newark, like the Food Plaza, expand and increase their supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Experts refer to Detroit, Michigan, as a "food desert" - half of the city's population struggles to find ready access to fresh food and supermarkets.
Editor's note: all week, CNN Newsroom, Rick's List and Eatocracy are teaming up to take a look the effects our dining choices have on our minds, bodies and wallets. Tune into CNN Newsroom daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. ET for on-air coverage and join in the discussion here on Eatocracy. ALL COVERAGE
Areas devoid of fresh food and supermarkets, like South Los Angeles, California, have become known as a "food deserts." In 2002, this area of more than 125,000 residents and five entire zip codes retained a 30 percent obesity rate and no full-service grocery stores - a problem that Councilwoman Jan Perry told CNN's Casey Wian needed to be nipped in the bud.
Ergo, the Los Angeles City Council passed a moratorium on fast food businesses in south L.A., set up a farmers market at the neighborhood city hall and opened two new major food retailers.