After work I took a stroll into the city before dusk sunk its teeth into the beaten concrete. I decided that I deserved a little pick-me-up of plant goodies. I popped into some of favorite go-to stores like Target and Trader Joe’s.
I grabbed my usual random plant-based things that typically included canned beans, brown rice, and really cheap kale. Nothing special, just the typical broke-as-hell food items that I can usually stretch for several meals.
On the way home, I stood at the back of the BART train, rocking and swaying as the train galloped on the wooden tracks. During my long commute home, I thought about how having easy it was for me to do last minute food shopping.
This is what access looks like. This is what it looks like to live in a city where resources are abundant and sometimes even overwhelming. But some of us aren’t so lucky. And I didn’t always have this sort of access to food. I was sometimes limited by money, transportation, and store options.
Limited Access To Fresh Food
When I graduated from college, I decided to live in the more affordable area with friends. What I hadn’t realized at the time was that I was at an extreme disadvantage because of how inaccessible food was for me.
In addition for being strapped for cash, I didn’t have a reliable source for transportation and the nearest grocery store was about 3 buses away from my home. On most days, I’d just stop by the gas station or a fast-food joint after work. This isn’t what I wanted. These weren’t the foods I enjoyed.
In all honesty, after a long day at work and the bus system shutting down early, these were my only options. Fortunately, I was able to bum a ride once a month or so from friends, but it was usually not enough to sustain me until the next trip.
Why Access Is Bigger Than Just Having Money
Eating healthy, plant-based food was just simply out of reach for me, no matter how many blogs I read that said things like:
“Just grow your own garden!” I didn’t have the space.
“Use food delivery.” I couldn’t afford it (don’t think it even existed at that time).
“All stores have healthy, plant-based food selections.” Sometimes they’re rotten, expired, or severely lacking.
“Go to your nearest farmer’s market.” There wasn’t a bus that went out there.
“Every place has a Walmart. Go there.” Have you ever lived in a rural area?
According to the FoodTrust.org, some of the issues with food access include:
- Lack of supermarkets
- Lack of healthy, high quality foods in nearby food stores
- Predominance of convenience/corner/liquor stores
- Lack of transportation access to stores
What Is The Answer?
Although some of us might not be directly affected by the lack of high-quality, plant-based foods in some parts of the United States, it doesn’t make it not true for others.
How do we solve this issue? How can we eat healthy and plant-based when the food is literally out of reach?
At the very least, it’s important we continue to build a community of folks who can share their stories, tips, and resources on how to eat plant-based on a budget or on limited resources. Hopefully as this blog and community grows, we can help each other achieve our plant-based goals.