For this week’s project, my group and I decided to focus on the theme of food for our video element. We covered a market on Ridge Avenue, which sits close to Midvale Avenue. It’s a great resource for the community — it’s larger than most grocery stores and offers a wide selection of fresh and organic foods.
However, the store is separated from the more southern part of Ridge Avenue by Laurel Hill Cemetery, one of the largest graveyards in Philadelphia. The other side of the neighborhood, which is significantly less affluent, has fewer options for food. There are a number of bodegas that line the street, which mostly offer candy, chips, beer and cigarettes. As for a full-fledged grocery store, the neighborhood doesn’t have one.
This is congruent with studies done on urban food choices. According to researchers from the University of Alberta, lower-income neighborhoods are closer to stores with more high-calorie foods and further from large supermarkets with fresh produce. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that people in lower socioeconomic brackets also tend to be more overweight.
There was a You Tube skit on this unfortunate circumstance that became popular two years ago. In it, a beer-bellied Rafi Kam explains Brooklyn’s bodegas: “You get a [fruit drink] for a quarter, you get chips for a quarter, and you got a lunch for fifty cents.” He then sarcastically thanks New York’s politicians for letting poor people eat such foods. Though he makes light of the situation, Kam drives home a serious point. Unhealthy food is cheaper, so people who have less discretionary funds are more apt to buy it.
Of course, Ridge Avenue is unique because it does offer a fresh market on its more northern end, which is accessible by public transportation. However, the presence of the cemetery — as well as the recently built condos — cleaves Ridge Avenue into two very distinct communities. People tend to stay on their side most of the time, and for one area, that means being closer to a number of bad food choices. And who can turn down a Tastykake when it’s there?
By Holly Otterbein, Amber Sizemore and Tom Kelly for Group 26