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The Mexico Ledger - Mexico, MO
Articles addressing today's lifestyle and eating habits with a nuritional needs perspective.
We are in a Food Swamp
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By Shellie Shaw
Shellie Shaw earned her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Central Missouri State University in 1994, and began her internship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. soon after. She currently is serving as the senior dietitian at ...
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Shellie Shaw earned her Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Central Missouri State University in 1994, and began her internship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. soon after. She currently is serving as the senior dietitian at Audrain Medical Center.
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By Shellie Shaw
Dec. 18, 2012 11:37 a.m.



Are we a food desert or a food swamp?  Since a food desert is described as an area where residents lack easy access to healthful, affordable foods and food swamps are areas where there is both a variety of healthful and unhealthful foods, I believe we are in a food swamp.  There are healthful foods in our stores, and we have multiple stores providing them.  After checking the website www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-desert-locator.aspx I see that Audrain is not considered food desert.  But I wonder if those living here believe they are in a food desert.  Only a survey can give us that answer.

When impacting our community's health it is not as simple as offering healthful foods.  From my own food service experience I learned that it is more important to the food purchaser to have the healthful food alternative available than for them to actually purchase it.  I think it makes them feel better knowing they can opt out of the fried food meal IF they choose so.  After all, people have exercise equipment in their homes acting as a closet annex.  Just because we have something available does not mean we will take advantage of it. We like choices.

For the nutrition part of improving our community's lifestyle habits, I think it is a combination of time constraints, lack of know-how in preparation, fear of trying new foods, and making it a priority.  Let's not forget how we are inundated with news reports related to nutrition that leave people confused.  This is convoluted, and it seems doubtful there is a one-size fits all solution.

So what is your stumbling block?  Do you struggle to know what to do with healthful foods?  Do you need someone to help you plan meals ahead of time that takes minutes to prepare?  Do you need to learn more about cost-effective shopping?  Just what is the obstacle in the way of a healthier life and a healthier family?

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