Saturday, November 22, 2014

Empower The Citizens And Nothing Is Impossible | Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility Discussion Group

Hello Mack Pack!

I have another discussion group post that I wanted to share with you. Here were my instructions:

The purpose of this discussion is to offer you the opportunity to debate the issue of food justice and food deserts. Food deserts are a significant issue in poorer neighborhoods in the United States. In many of these neighborhoods, the only access to food is through a local convenience store or a fast food restaurant. This severely limits the options for the poor to have access to fresh and wholesome food and has been evidenced as a key reason for the obesity epidemic in the United States. This issue is encompassed in the overarching topic of food justice, which highlights the issue of food deserts as well as public access to genetically modified foods, organic foods, and the issues of equal access for positive food options in light of public health and social inequality. Prepare and post a response to the following prompt:
Read the Hilmers article assigned this week. Assume that your town is a food desert and you would like to do something about it. Prepare an evidenced argument to present to your local town council that outlines an idea to offer healthy food options to your town. Use at least one ethical theory or perspective to support the moral or ethical reasoning for why this program should be implemented.

I always look for a way to avoid government involvement and I wanted to use this as an opportunity to show to my classmates that the government is NOT the first resort for all problems. I wanted to illustrate that empowered citizens are capable of solving community problems for themselves. Let me know what you think? Here is my post:

Thank you for allowing me to present my argument today for what we, as a town, can do to offer healthy food options. As Angela Hilmers illustrated in the "American Journal of Public Health, "People living in low-income neighborhoods were 2.3 times as likely as residents of affluent neighborhoods to have fast-food outlets within 5-10 min walk" (Hilmers, 2012). With this in mind, we stand at the crossroads of an important decision. Do we continue to allow our town to offer only unhealthy choices of food or is there something that we can do about it?

We are currently living in what is known as a "food desert", which means that we are geographically located in such a way that fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods are not only more expensive than more affluent areas, but less available. The result has been a rapid increase of obesity and diabetes in, not just our children, but the entire community. Compared to other areas, where healthy options are more available, our community's overall health is suffering.
But what can we do? Do we create a law outlawing fast food? No! For the answer to less available healthy options of food, is not to eliminate the options that we have. There are many ways to go about increasing the availability to fresh fruits and vegetables that do not involve the government creating new laws outlawing unhealthy food or even providing healthy food choices for the community. 
I ask that the town council find a place for our community to grow our own gardens. Our land is fertile! We have empty lots scattered around town that could be used as a way for us to help ourselves. Instead of relying on others to provide for us, we can provide for ourselves. Being that the property is public land, owned by all, this would be well within the councils power to allocate these areas for this purpose. 
Additionally, I ask that the council please help to provide information to the rest of the community at the local drivers license department on how to grow a garden. By providing this information at the licensing department, we avoid costly marketing, which would of course, be imposed on the taxpayer, but ensures that many people within our community will have access to this information at minimum upon renewal and issue of drivers licenses. This information will put the power back into the hands of the citizens and they can decide what is best for themselves. Lastly, I ask that the council start a community garden donation bank; a place that those of us in the community who wish to donate seeds, fertilizers, soil and gardening equipment to others who cannot afford their to buy their own. I feel all three of these actions are imperative in order for our community to turn around our downward health trends.
I think we can agree that what you put into you body is a deeply personal issue that can only be made by the individual. I feel this common sense approach will allow those of us who wish to have healthier food choices to take control over our lives, while not forcing others to change a way of life they may wish to keep. I urge the council to act upon this request in the most expedient fashion possible. Thank you for your time. 
References:Hilmers, A., Hilmers, D. C., & Dave, J. (2012). Neighborhood disparities in access to healthy foods and their effects on environmental justice. American Journal of Public Health, 102(9), 1644-1654. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300865

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