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May 5, 2008

The Lost Supermarket: The Quest For Fresh Foods

The Lost Supermarket: A Breed in Need of Replenishment

A continuing decline in the number of neighborhood supermarkets has made it harder for millions of New Yorkers to find fresh and affordable food within walking distance of their homes, according to a recent city study. The dearth of nearby supermarkets is most severe in minority and poor neighborhoods already beset by obesity, diabetes and and heart disease.

The supermarket closings — not confined to poor neighborhoods — result from rising rents and slim profit margins, among other causes. They have forced residents to take buses or cabs to the closest supermarkets in some areas. Those with cars can drive, but the price of gasoline is making some think twice about that option. In many places, residents said the lack of competition has led to rising prices in the remaining stores.

“Many people in low-income neighborhoods are spending their food budget at discount stores or pharmacies where there is no fresh produce,” said Amanda Burden, the city’s planning director. “In our study, a significant percentage of them reported that in the day before our survey, they had not eaten fresh fruit or vegetables. Not one. That really is a health crisis in the city.”
This is a much larger problem than it appears, there is already a health crisis of the poor urban neighborhoods as they are already at higher risk for disease due to living conditions, but now the removal of fresh foods completely from one's diet could be devastating. A supermarket closes down and another two fast food restaurants open up. This is just another subtle affect that the dependence of foreign oil and inflation is causing.