Blog #2- Not a food desert

by Judy Ziyi Gu

My work is about investigating food deserts and food accessibility in the city. A lot of us take access to fresh, nutritious food for granted, however there are actually many neighborhoods in New York that either do not have grocery stores or residents do not have vehicles that will help them access fresh food. This shortage of fresh food has many health implications.

I have two sites, they are both supermarkets in Queens; one is in Astoria, the other in Maspeth. Astoria and Maspeth are both immigrant neighborhoods; Astoria is a higher-income area, and Maspeth is largely isolated because it is surrounded by plots of industrial areas and cemeteries. As a consequence, Maspeth residents have low-access to food, though it might not be designated as an official food desert. This weekend I visited the first grocery store in Astoria, Associated Supermarket at 3715 31st Avenue.

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img_3801The grocery store has wide aisles, lots of elderly shoppers, and busy staff members stocking the store inside and out. The store had a generous produce section and most of the advertised items on sale were of fresh produce, but it also did not appear to be as clean/sterile as some grocery chains in Manhattan are, such as West Side Market, Morton Williams, or Whole Foods; it had some dirty floors and considerable water damage on the ceiling.

In the “Transmission of Affect”, Theresa Brennan writes, “the transmission of affect means, that we are not self-contained in terms of our energies. There is no secure distinction between the ‘individual’ and the ‘environment.'” (Brennan 6) I believe this also means that our decisions, including what we eat is greatly affected by our environment. If a person is surrounded by a neighbors who value food-cooked meals made from fresh produce and balanced diets, they are likely to make good food decisions. In contrast, if a person is stranded in a food desert with limited access to fresh produce but surrounded by many bodegas that carry a lot of canned foods, you can already guess what their diet looks like, and maybe what their health is like.

Or a little more obscurely, the environment which carry our food also affects how we view food. If you buy canned food from bodegas because it is the only convenient way, you have a much different relationship to food than if you shop from a well-stocked, fairly-priced grocery store that has a few hygiene issues, or at an emporium where expensive food is curated, labeled “artisanal” and”organic” in a sterile, well-lit place.

Our neighborhood and neighbors will decided what we eat and even shape our bodies!

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~ by zyjudes on February 21, 2017.

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