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Old 05-15-2013, 02:37 PM   #31
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I have known families that really did stretch each buck, and mainly had things like rice and beans, or potatoes, or other carbs as the base of their meals. I think a lot of us don't really realize how cheaply people in poverty have to live.

If your high carb lifestyle involved buying lots of processed, more expensive food, than sure, maybe you save on low carb by simplifying things down to meats and veggies. But if you are really trying to live on a budget, the cheapest possibilities really are carbs.
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Old 05-15-2013, 03:40 PM   #32
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My food costs have definetly gone up.
But that is due in large measure to the fact that I am shopping more and more at the local health food store. It started with coconut oil, then grass fed beef, then some fermented foods. I can see more on the horizon. The thought of all those pesticides, hormones, and filthy living conditions for the animals is grossing me out. LOL, that's what I get for joining LCF and having y'all teach me stuff.
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Old 05-15-2013, 06:51 PM   #33
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I just calculated what it costs approximately to feed myself for the day on LC. And I calculated $11.50. And that includes $5 for coffee and tea. Is that expensive? It seems cheap to me. If I cut out drinking coffee and tea it would be a lot cheaper. I seem to remember it being more expensive on HC. But I think in my case it is because I am eating a lot less food. I know that I am about 5 months into LC and my family is eating more LC foods as well. I am buying less and less food every week. Five months ago our fridge cupboards would have been packed full of food, after every shopping trip. Now they are half empty all the time.
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Old 05-15-2013, 07:22 PM   #34
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I would like to point out some of the inequities with regard to the issue of *access* to fresh, unprocessed food.

I grew up in a low-income urban neighborhood and there was ONE major chain supermarket in the entire neighborhood, which meant that some areas of the neighborhood were several miles from the supermarket. This is not a problem for families that own cars. But many people in my neighborhood couldn't afford cars. And when the state auto insurance laws changed when I was a child, a lot of people who previously had cars couldn't afford the insurance and had to either get rid of their cars or stop legally driving them. This meant that people either had to take public transportation several miles -- and often with multiple connections -- to shop at the supermarket. Or they had to shop for groceries at small markets, convenience stores, or bodegas. Worse than this, the entire time I was growing up, my cousins lived in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, in which there was (at that time) NO major supermarket serving the community of tens of thousands of people.

These smaller markets and convenience stores typically contain very little fresh produce and fresh meat -- imagine having to shop for your family at a 7-11. The produce they have is generally very low quality and quite expensive. The small selection of meat and dairy at these smaller stores is often of very questionable freshness and not stored at safe temperatures, so people avoid buying it. Shopping at markets like these means buying processed, shelf stable foods because the "fresh" foods are so often spoiled and/or prohibitively priced.

Adam Drewnowski, of the University of Washington, has done a significant amount of research on the links between access to "fresh" foods and rates of obesity in low-income communities:
The economics of food choice behavior: why poverty and obesity are linked. (2012)
The economics of food choice b... [Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser. 2012] - PubMed - NCBI

Obesity, diets, and social inequalities. (2009)
Obesity, diets, and social inequalities. [Nutr Rev. 2009] - PubMed - NCBI

Food choices and diet costs: an economic analysis. (2005)
Food choices and diet costs: an economic analysis. [J Nutr. 2005] - PubMed - NCBI

The economics of obesity: dietary energy density and energy cost. (2005)
The economics of obesity: dietary energy dens... [Am J Clin Nutr. 2005] - PubMed - NCBI
There is an inverse relationship between energy density of foods (kJ/g) and energy cost ($/MJ), such that energy-dense grains, fats, and sweets represent the lowest-cost dietary options to the consumer. Good taste, high convenience, and the low cost of energy-dense foods, in conjunction with large portions and low satiating power, may be the principal reasons for overeating and weight gain. Financial disparities in access to healthier diets may help explain why the highest rates of obesity and diabetes are found among minorities and the working poor.
The "restaurants" in the low-income, black, Chicago neighborhood that I grew up in consisted ENTIRELY of fast-food chicken and fast-food fried fish outlets. There isn't even a McDonald's within several miles of my parents' house -- yes, my neighborhood is too poor to support a McDonald's, I kid you not. This means that the only consistently available "fresh" vegetable dish a person can buy in my parents' neighborhood is COLESLAW. Popeye's sometimes has collard greens, but not always -- and they're a stringy, sad excuse for greens. The KFC in my parents' neighborhood has had a sign up -- for as long as I can remember -- that says "We apologize. Tomatoes are unavailable due to a problem with our supplier." They've had that tomato problem for, like, 20 years.

One of my close friends from college grew up in the Harlem neighborhood in New York City and she moved back to the neighborhood after college. She says that there are more fresh food opportunities available to her now, because of community farming initiatives and because the community co-ops have fresh, affordable meat from farms in upstate New York. But to buy from the co-ops and community farms, a person has to volunteer a minimum amount of monthly hours working at the co-op or working on the farm, which many people who have jobs (or more than one job) and especially people who have kids are not able to do. Also, a lot of the residents are not even aware of the existence of the co-ops and neighborhood farms.

This is an extremely complex social problem that is not necessarily about what people *want* to eat but rather what is most readily *available* to eat.
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:18 PM   #35
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[QUOTE=Trillex;1642643

One of my close friends from college grew up in the Harlem neighborhood in New York City and she moved back to the neighborhood after college. She says that there are more fresh food opportunities available to her now, because of community farming initiatives and because the community co-ops have fresh, affordable meat from farms in upstate New York. But to buy from the co-ops and community farms, a person has to volunteer a minimum amount of monthly hours working at the co-op or working on the farm, which many people who have jobs (or more than one job) and especially people who have kids are not able to do. Also, a lot of the residents are not even aware of the existence of the co-ops and neighborhood farms.
.[/QUOTE]

I don't think any area of nyc can count as not having access to fresh produce now or 20 years ago because people travel throughout the entire city pretty much every day on public transport so you do have access to whatever you want.

And, many people do some food shopping after work or after school and take it back home with them on the train, whether they are poor or not. I can't think of any areas of harlem that don't have stores with produce and fresh food that are nearby.

Maybe it's because I have lived in NYC all my life, but I don't see it as a hardship to travel on public transport with some groceries and even if I have to change trains, no big deal. A lot of people manage to do it and I think what you learn is that you are not going to be buying any 2L sodas. I especially see a lot of older Asian ladies coming back from work in Chinatown with bags and bags of groceries (a lot of veg and fish).
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:57 PM   #36
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I don't think any area of nyc can count as not having access to fresh produce now or 20 years ago because people travel throughout the entire city pretty much every day on public transport so you do have access to whatever you want.

And, many people do some food shopping after work or after school and take it back home with them on the train, whether they are poor or not. I can't think of any areas of harlem that don't have stores with produce and fresh food that are nearby.

Maybe it's because I have lived in NYC all my life, but I don't see it as a hardship to travel on public transport with some groceries and even if I have to change trains, no big deal. A lot of people manage to do it and I think what you learn is that you are not going to be buying any 2L sodas.
I went to Columbia so I lived in Morningside Heights for four years, and I volunteered in Inwood and Washington Heights for three of my four years of college. We had outstanding grocery options in Morningside Heights -- although the prices were *middle class* affordable, not *low-income affordable*. Even if the prices had been favorable, though, the people I volunteered with in job training programs in Inwood and Washington Heights knew where Morningside Heights was but had never actually been there or really ever considered going to more *upscale* areas to shop, even though it was only about a mile or two away. New York is an extremely cosmopolitan and mobile city for many classes of people, but not so much for the poor, who often remain confined within fairly limited borders even in extremely diverse, cosmopolitan cities.

Low-income areas within New York City are as burdened by "food deserts" as every other low-income, urban area of the country, and the access problems persist in New York City and other urban areas up to this very day. There have been decades of studies, which document the continuing problems that low-income urban people face in terms of getting fresh foods.

For example, here is a study of New York City's "food deserts" from 2011:
The locations of food deserts, or unhealthy food environments, correspond to areas with the highest proportions of African-American/Black residents, a population suffering from higher rates of many chronic conditions, including obesity and diabetes in our study area. This study seeks to enhance our understanding of the role of the neighborhood environment on residents' health, by examining neighborhood food availability and access in low-income and wealthier neighborhoods of New York City. We documented the neighborhood food environment and areas we call "food deserts" by creating methodological innovations. We calculated the lowest scores within East and Central Harlem and North and Central Brooklyn-areas with the highest proportions of Black residents and the lowest median household incomes. By contrast, the most favorable food desert scores were on the Upper East Side, a predominantly white, middle and upper-income area.

Measuring food deserts in New York City's low-income neighborhoods.
Measuring food deserts in New York City's low-i... [Health Place. 2011] - PubMed - NCBI
I now live in a small city near Detroit and if I told you how bad the grocery options were for most of central Detroit, it would sound like a sci-fi level of exaggeration.

I tip my hat to the people who make an effort to leave their neighborhoods via public transportation to improve their family's food quality but it is clearly a burden to do so, even in New York City. It was a hassle for ME getting from Point A to Point B just carrying bags of books on the subway -- not even taking the impossible journey from the Upper West Side to the Upper East Side via Midtown. And I would see these exhausted-looking women pulling those plaid grocery carts onto the subway -- and up and down those horrible subway stairs, through crowds of commuters -- and I thought to myself, "Do they have to do this every week? More than once a week?" With a full-time job -- or more than one job -- it isn't a negligible task to commute across New York City to buy groceries. And it is a documented fact that most low-income people don't do it.
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:07 PM   #37
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I went to Columbia so I lived in Morningside Heights for four years, and I volunteered in Inwood and Washington Heights for three of my four years of college. We had outstanding grocery options in Morningside Heights -- although the prices were *middle class* affordable, not *low-income affordable*. Even if the prices had been favorable, though, the people I volunteered with in job training programs in Inwood and Washington Heights knew where Morningside Heights was but had never actually been there or really ever considered going to more *upscale* areas to shop, even though it was only about a mile or two away. New York is an extremely cosmopolitan and mobile city for many classes of people, but not so much for the poor, who often remain confined within fairly limited borders even in extremely diverse, cosmopolitan cities.

Low-income areas within New York City are as burdened by "food deserts" as every other low-income, urban area of the country, and the access problems persist in New York City and other urban areas up to this very day. There have been decades of studies, which document the continuing problems that low-income urban people face in terms of getting fresh foods.

For example, here is a study of New York City's "food deserts" from 2011:
The locations of food deserts, or unhealthy food environments, correspond to areas with the highest proportions of African-American/Black residents, a population suffering from higher rates of many chronic conditions, including obesity and diabetes in our study area. This study seeks to enhance our understanding of the role of the neighborhood environment on residents' health, by examining neighborhood food availability and access in low-income and wealthier neighborhoods of New York City. We documented the neighborhood food environment and areas we call "food deserts" by creating methodological innovations. We calculated the lowest scores within East and Central Harlem and North and Central Brooklyn-areas with the highest proportions of Black residents and the lowest median household incomes. By contrast, the most favorable food desert scores were on the Upper East Side, a predominantly white, middle and upper-income area.

Measuring food deserts in New York City's low-income neighborhoods.
Measuring food deserts in New York City's low-i... [Health Place. 2011] - PubMed - NCBI
I now live in a small city near Detroit and if I told you how bad the grocery options were for most of central Detroit, it would sound like a sci-fi level of exaggeration.

I tip my hat to the people who make an effort to leave their neighborhoods via public transportation to improve their family's food quality but it is clearly a burden to do so, even in New York City. It was a hassle for ME getting from Point A to Point B just carrying bags of books on the subway -- not even taking the impossible journey from the Upper West Side to the Upper East Side via Midtown. And I would see these exhausted-looking women pulling those plaid grocery carts onto the subway -- and up and down those horrible subway stairs, through crowds of commuters -- and I thought to myself, "Do they have to do this every week? More than once a week?" With a full-time job -- or more than one job -- it isn't a negligible task to commute across New York City to buy groceries. And it is a documented fact that most low-income people don't do it.
You should see Morningside heights now, even more horrible when it comes to food prices and gentrification.

I am a student and I often choose to get groceries near school and bring them home with me on the train because I know I will be even more tired by the time I get home and grocery shopping will be even harder. Now, I might be exhausted looking but it's not from bringing my groceries. This is what people in nyc do, it's the norm, no need for pity. People leave their neighborhoods for work, recreation, to see friends, school, whatever.

I disagree that the poor don't travel throughout nyc and this is from someone that worked on a pilot program that partly mapped travel distances of an average person. I think though it must be a lifelong new yorker thing- traveling between those points that you mentioned isn't especially hard to do, even with books and groceries, I do it all the time. Just like people don't think twice about bringing ikea furniture on the subway. People don't commute to buy groceries- they do it on the way as part of their daily commute.

I know nothing about detroit but I do know about social science research and how it isn't always the whole truth.

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Old 05-15-2013, 09:52 PM   #38
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You should see Morningside heights now, even more horrible when it comes to food prices and gentrification.

I am a student and I often choose to get groceries near school and bring them home with me on the train because I know I will be even more tired by the time I get home and grocery shopping will be even harder. Now, I might be exhausted looking but it's not from bringing my groceries. This is what people in nyc do, it's the norm, no need for pity. People leave their neighborhoods for work, recreation, to see friends, school, whatever.

I disagree that the poor don't travel throughout nyc and this is from someone that worked on a pilot program that partly mapped travel distances of an average person. I think though it must be a lifelong new yorker thing- traveling between those points that you mentioned isn't especially hard to do, even with books and groceries, I do it all the time. Just like people don't think twice about bringing ikea furniture on the subway. People don't commute to buy groceries- they do it on the way as part of their daily commute.

I know nothing about detroit but I do know about social science research and how it isn't always the whole truth.
In addition to the data on food deserts -- which could certainly be flawed -- national medical data also supports the fact that low-income urban people who live in areas with limited access to "fresh" food suffer a much higher degree of chronic health conditions that result from low-quality diets. You are absolutely correct that *logistically* low-income residents of New York City *could* expand their food options into more fertile shopping areas -- for example, Manhattan is not physically very large -- but going grocery shopping outside their neighborhood borders is clearly not as easy or prevalent as the mobility of higher income classes in the city make the situation seem. Because the health outcomes show that this is not what the mainstream population of low-income urban areas does.

This is anecdotal, so it doesn't *prove* anything, but I grew up in a very poor Chicago neighborhood and I've never been to Ikea or even Wal-Mart. These stores don't exist in my neighborhood and I didn't even know what Ikea was until I went to boarding school and everybody else's futon -- another thing that I didn't know existed -- was from Ikea. Poverty has a way of limiting perspectives as well options, regardless of logistical possibilities. So I think we need to consider additional cultural issues, which indicate that low-income residents of New York City -- even lifelong New Yorkers -- don't necessarily have the information that you -- who are clearly an educated and informed person -- has with regard to options for healthy food shopping in other areas of New York City.

And when we consider the limits of literacy -- particularly in immigrant and first-generation populations -- and the limits on internet access, we can see that a lack of information might also play a significant role in the food choices that we see among low-income urban populations. Because we can clearly see that the diets within that population are sub-standard and closely correlated to the limits on locally-available fresh food options.
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Old 05-16-2013, 12:37 AM   #39
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Thank you Trillex for bringing our attention to the issues of food access and equity. I appreciate you sharing both the research about food deserts and your anecdotal experiences-- I think both are valuable when thinking about what is available to folks and what the real cost (including more than just price) of food is in people's lives. In spaces like this-- where there is inherent privilege associated with our presence here-- we don't often get the opportunity to step outside of our own perspectives and really THINK. Thank you for the invitation to think of the ways that race, culture, immigration status, and socioeconomic status, and affect what look like food 'choices'.

I also appreciate the patience and rigor of your responses here.
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Old 05-16-2013, 12:49 AM   #40
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It depends on how and what you cook.
~$35 for a 13 pound pork shoulder, slow cooked will yield about 8 pounds of usable meat. Assuming a serving size of half a pound, you're looking at $1.88 per serving.

Prepackaged "low carb foods" tend to be more expensive (and are often counter-productive), but there is an economy of scale that comes into play when you cook in quantity.
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Old 05-16-2013, 01:39 AM   #41
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When I talk to people sometimes I get this argument: "I couldn't do a low carb diet, the high carb foods are all the cheap foods and I am on a budget." And I do understand this,bread, rice, pasta, sugar, snack foods etc., are cheap ways of getting your calories. But one thing I have noticed with myself is that my groceries bills have gone down because I eat less! When I was eating HC I did buy cheaper foods than what I buy now, for example a loaf of bread I can get for $2.00 where as a cartoon of cream is double that. But I don't drink as much cream as I ate bread. If you buy stuff when it is on sale it is even better, I think LC can cost less if you use your grocery money wisely. For example I just bought myself a few cups of walnuts in their shells and it cost $1 for 20. Which seems expensive but by the time I crack them open and eat them I will probably only be able to eat 5 of them. That is 25 cents for a snack. A bag of chips costs $2 on sale of which I could easily eat half a bag in one sitting. I think HC costs more.
High carb is cheaper than low carb, it's not an excuse but it is true. Ramen soups are like 5 or 6 for a dollar NOTHING low carb is THAT cheap. Soda full of sugar you can buy a big cheap 3 liter for a dollar or a dollar fifty, but healthy zero calorie non carbonated drinks cost like $2 for 16 ounces, cheap white bread can be bought for 99 cents but low carb bread is like $4 loaf, fresh veggies cost more than carby or processed food in regular stores. But, there is a way out, the 99 cents store sells fresh veggies and fruit and non carbonated zero calorie drinks etc. So it is true that low carb costs more, but you have to know where to shop and also be willing to spend the little extra because it's worth it in the end. The same way that people are willing to spend more for something they REALLY want like a nice pair of shoes or nice outfit, you have to think of this woe in the same way and you will be willing to find money for something that's really important to you.
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Old 05-16-2013, 04:23 AM   #42
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I guess a lot of it depends on where you live and what you have access to. Our 7-11s, actually not called that up here, charge $2.50 for a 500mL bottle of coke. You can't buy a loaf of bread for less than $3 up here. A box of cereal costs about $5 for a small box and if you are eating that for breakfast every day it would be gone in a couple of days if you are only eating it by yourself. I buy junk snack food for my husband and try to buy the cheap stuff when it goes on sale. If I am lucky I can get a 120g bag for $3 but it is usually more than that. It might be because everything up here is shipped so a lot of the cost is shipping charges. Shopping at the grocery store is always cheaper than a convenience store. Candies and pre-packaged high carb foods are definitely more expensive than bare bones food that you have to prepare for yourself, which is basically your LC diet. We don't have access to pre-packed LC food, or specialty foods that come from the health food store. If you want to go LC where I live, you are just basically eating meat, eggs, with some cheap veggies like lettuce, bok choy etc. And dairy and oils. I find the dairy to be the most expensive thing, but because you are drinking cream instead of milk, you are hardly using any of it. Dairy and meat go on sale, and most dairy will last a long time in the fridge. If you have a freezer you can buy the meat on sale. Oils are expensive, but they last forever because you only use 1 - 2 tbs at a time.

However I do notice some differences with respect to where you live, sometimes I have to go to the city to work for a few days and grocery shopping down there is a huge pain. I am used to going to the grocery store to buy whatever I need, but down there you have to go for a serious hike to find one. Restaurants are everywhere though, fast food, coffee shops, diners etc. It is definitely easier and more convenient to be HC down there, you have more choices. Trillex has a good point, although you can commute to buy your groceries, things like veggies and diary are pretty heavy to carry and you have to keep dairy and meat cool while traveling.

Having said that though, according to Gary Taubes or Phinney and Volek, some human populations lived successfully on fish oil, and without veggies, so who knows if we really need them. I eat very little variety with respect to veggies and people always accuse me of getting enough nutrients. I don't feel unhealthy though. All I eat for veggies is some of the LC green, leafy veggies, alfalfa and cauliflower. And sparingly tomatos, onion, ginger, garlic, fresh herbs.

Right now my diet isn't that convenient if I didn't have access to a grocery store. If I couldn't find a grocery store, I would probably buy cream from a convenience store, packaged nuts and I am not sure what I would do for protein. I guess you would have to get it from a fast food restaurant. I usually eat ceasar salad when I am out and sometimes you can get grilled chicken on it which works if you toss the croutons.

What do people live on in the city? Starbucks drinks? Because grocery shopping when you aren't driving seems difficult, I can see why people would find LC difficult living there.
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Old 05-16-2013, 05:20 AM   #43
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Something I notice is
1. Publix runs a weekly BOGO special and ALMOST all of the food items are high carb
2. food coupons in the newspaper, which many/most stores double are almost always high carb

I really do think the same amount of $ will produce more "food" in your grocery cart but whether that 'food' is something our greatgrandparents would have recognized as food I don't know, whether that "food' is more additives than not, I don't know, whether long term higher carb eating leads to higher medical cost I don't know blah blah blah.

If asked whether I think lower carb is worth the $ I do but that's answering a different question.

I think more people find it easier and cheaper to live off of ramen noodles and rice than eggs (cage free, organic, or not).

I would love to see government subsidies that go to processed food manufacturers or those who supply them with resources go away but I will not hold my breath.
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Old 05-16-2013, 06:52 AM   #44
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Maybe it's because I have lived in NYC all my life, but I don't see it as a hardship to travel on public transport with some groceries and even if I have to change trains, no big deal. A lot of people manage to do it and I think what you learn is that you are not going to be buying any 2L sodas. I especially see a lot of older Asian ladies coming back from work in Chinatown with bags and bags of groceries (a lot of veg and fish).
I live in Harlem now and I go to Trader Joes on 72nd street or Fairway in the 70s. You have to remember that not everyone is as strong and healthy as we are or even can afford the train fare of $2.75 each way. There are many who don't leave their immediate neighborhood.
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Old 05-16-2013, 06:58 AM   #45
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I live in Harlem now and I go to Trader Joes on 72nd street or Fairway in the 70s. You have to remember that not everyone is as strong and healthy as we are or even can afford the train fare of $2.75 each way. There are many who don't leave their immediate neighborhood.
That's why people (who do it) do it on their way home from work/school, no extra fare required. But, of course if someone is disabled or not working they won't be doing that.

Walking to get groceries also isn't bad. I have a friend in queens and she will walk quite a distance to get to the store with the produce that she likes and better prices.

I am actually pretty amazed at the fitness levels of some older ladies who can heft some big bags without problem. No gym needed to stay fit. There is a grandma that I often see on the train and she can manage two grandkids, their schoolbags, and groceries, AND moves fast enough to get seats.

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Old 05-16-2013, 07:57 AM   #46
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I was born and raised in NY and lived in the city for many years. There is practically a supermarket on every corner, or a bodega, with access to fresh fruits and vegetables. I am not saying every area of the city is "equal" but there is certainly access.

I lived in midtown, and would often take the train or bus down to china town to go to the big markets there, and train it back with my groceries. And many others do the same. I can't speak for other urban/metro areas, but that is the case in NYC.
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Old 05-16-2013, 08:09 AM   #47
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Going to the poverty issue - if you are a lower class person, working 2 jobs.... picture the time and effort involved in taking the subway to your grocery store, hauling back your 13 lb pork shoulder, and cooking it... when? In between your two jobs? You can see why ramen noodles seem like a much more attractive option.

I'm in Dallas - north half has tons of beautiful supermarkets and caters to the middle/upper middle class. The south is where the lower classes and poor live. There are far fewer grocery stores, TONS of fried chicken places, TONS of fast food and 7-11s. When I have to work down south at the VA hospital I HATE it, because even with my car, picking up a healthy dinner on my way home is seriously challenging. I cant even imagine if I were navigating the Dart rail system, and managing with very limited income.
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Old 05-16-2013, 08:40 AM   #48
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I was born and raised in NY and lived in the city for many years. There is practically a supermarket on every corner, or a bodega, with access to fresh fruits and vegetables. I am not saying every area of the city is "equal" but there is certainly access.

I lived in midtown, and would often take the train or bus down to china town to go to the big markets there, and train it back with my groceries. And many others do the same. I can't speak for other urban/metro areas, but that is the case in NYC.

Unfortunately there are many "food deserts" uptown where the only options are bodegas with questionable quality vegetables and stale deli meat. I've actually taken pictures of the wilted jalapenos and tomatoes to prove this point to a friend who had a similar argument. Things often show up here when close to their expiration date. Like I said, I live uptown (in a fairly gentrified part with some decent but not excellent grocery stores) and I can find decent veggies in a chain store nearby but I choose to go elsewhere to get organic veggies, free range eggs and wild salmon. I go to farmers markets when I can. Things are changing fast up here...we even have a grass fed, organic butcher which opened recently ( on 116 and 8 in lower uptown) to the delight of the middle class but at $18 per pound for hamburger meat, it is not within reach of the people who don't live in the new developments and condos. There are two worlds in New York, I'm afraid.
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Old 05-16-2013, 09:09 AM   #49
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Definitely. I have lived in bunch of neighborhoods in Manhattan, from the upper west side to the east village to Washington heights to alphabet city, and more, and the difference in food availability is stark. To say that people have no problem with access to fresh food is simply not true.

My aunt has lived in the same apartment in Washington Heights since I was a kid, and there were nothing but bodegas within many blocks for years upon years. Things are better now, but for a long while, she had to get down to the decrepit--and ridiculously expensive-- C-Town market in Harlem (dozens of blocks away) on the bus, and then drag the groceries back. She did, but it was a struggle that many of her neighbors didn't or couldn't make.

Just because the trains and buses exist doesn't make it easy or even possible for everyone.
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Old 05-16-2013, 09:14 AM   #50
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Unfortunately there are many "food deserts" uptown where the only options are bodegas with questionable quality vegetables and stale deli meat. I've actually taken pictures of the wilted jalapenos and tomatoes to prove this point to a friend who had a similar argument. Things often show up here when close to their expiration date. Like I said, I live uptown (in a fairly gentrified part with some decent but not excellent grocery stores) and I can find decent veggies in a chain store nearby but I choose to go elsewhere to get organic veggies, free range eggs and wild salmon. I go to farmers markets when I can. Things are changing fast up here...we even have a grass fed, organic butcher which opened recently ( on 116 and 8 in lower uptown) to the delight of the middle class but at $18 per pound for hamburger meat, it is not within reach of the people who don't live in the new developments and condos. There are two worlds in New York, I'm afraid.
The are "two worlds" everywhere you look. In most cities and states. That is life.

And buying organic veggies, free range eggs and wild salmon is a choice, not a necessity. I can afford to buy it, but personally see it as ridiculous. That is simply my opinion. Nothing will happen to people who have to eat regular chop meat.
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Old 05-16-2013, 09:56 AM   #51
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The are "two worlds" everywhere you look. In most cities and states. That is life.
More than two, even.

If the original intent of the thread header was more along the lines of questioning whether any of us, within our own lives, find our grocery shopping to be cheaper or more expensive on low-carb than how we ate before, then for me the answer is cheaper. Much of that is due to the fact that I simply buy less food, both in quantity and variety, fewer unnecessary extras, condiments, snack foods or "treats", etc.
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Old 05-16-2013, 10:53 AM   #52
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The are "two worlds" everywhere you look. In most cities and states. That is life.
I didn't mean to pick on New York City. Because I don't think the issue of access is a "New York problem" but rather a situation that results from poverty. Because I grew up in a poor, urban area, I've noticed things that I think a person would not be able to notice if they grew up in a different type of environment.

I first noticed this issue with food shopping when I was in Florida with one of my high school friends. I knew that we driving through a *bad* neighborhood -- like the one I grew up in -- but I really KNEW that this place was like my neighborhood when I saw elementary-school-aged kids coming out of a liquor store and unwrapping snack cakes. If you grew up very poor and urban, then you know children who bought their breakfast before school from liquor stores -- or from funeral homes or nail salons that have convenience food areas. It's just one of the small things in daily life that tells a larger story about how different communities live. Which is why I could be in a completely different region of the country and recognize commonalities between that neighborhood and my neighborhood.

Even in the poorest neighborhoods -- like mine -- MOST parents buy groceries and make sure their children don't get the bulk of their nutrition from liquor stores. But I've known kids with *good* parents who've had days when they've had to buy convenience breakfasts because their house ran out of groceries and, without a supermarket nearby, it would be a day or two before an adult would have time to get to a real grocery store. This kind of thing also happens sometimes when families run out of groceries before the next payday. I don't consider McDonald's a particularly healthy breakfast option but in the neighborhood I grew up in there wasn't even a McDonald's where kids could get a cheap egg McMuffin before school, so they were eating snack cakes for breakfast when their family ran out of groceries.

I wish things were different and I hope things will change. But the government can't *dictate* to commercial businesses which foods they need to sell in different neighborhoods. So I can understand why small stores with limited resources don't invest in large quantities of perishable foods when they can make a much higher profit from shelf-stable items.
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Old 05-16-2013, 11:08 AM   #53
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In my experience a high carb diet, especially of the whole foods variety my family eats, is much, much cheaper than my low carb diet. It's really no contest. Sure, if you're moving from processed high carbs to unprocessed low carb it might be a wash, but it's still cheaper to make eight servings of lentil dumpling stew than a large California omelet.
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Old 05-16-2013, 11:24 AM   #54
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I didn't mean to pick on New York City. Because I don't think the issue of access is a "New York problem" but rather a situation that results from poverty. Because I grew up in a poor, urban area, I've noticed things that I think a person would not be able to notice if they grew up in a different type of environment.

I first noticed this issue with food shopping when I was in Florida with one of my high school friends. I knew that we driving through a *bad* neighborhood -- like the one I grew up in -- but I really KNEW that this place was like my neighborhood when I saw elementary-school-aged kids coming out of a liquor store and unwrapping snack cakes. If you grew up very poor and urban, then you know children who bought their breakfast before school from liquor stores -- or from funeral homes or nail salons that have convenience food areas. It's just one of the small things in daily life that tells a larger story about how different communities live. Which is why I could be in a completely different region of the country and recognize commonalities between that neighborhood and my neighborhood.

Even in the poorest neighborhoods -- like mine -- MOST parents buy groceries and make sure their children don't get the bulk of their nutrition from liquor stores. But I've known kids with *good* parents who've had days when they've had to buy convenience breakfasts because their house ran out of groceries and, without a supermarket nearby, it would be a day or two before an adult would have time to get to a real grocery store. This kind of thing also happens sometimes when families run out of groceries before the next payday. I don't consider McDonald's a particularly healthy breakfast option but in the neighborhood I grew up in there wasn't even a McDonald's where kids could get a cheap egg McMuffin before school, so they were eating snack cakes for breakfast when their family ran out of groceries.

I wish things were different and I hope things will change. But the government can't *dictate* to commercial businesses which foods they need to sell in different neighborhoods. So I can understand why small stores with limited resources don't invest in large quantities of perishable foods when they can make a much higher profit from shelf-stable items.
Thank you. This is why healthy school lunches are so important. I've read that the shame of showing up early for breakfast stops many of these kids from getting free breakfast at school because you have to be poor to qualify. Yeah there are two worlds but it doesn't have to be that way.
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Old 05-16-2013, 02:29 PM   #55
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I would like to point out some of the inequities with regard to the issue of *access* to fresh, unprocessed food.

I grew up in a low-income urban neighborhood and there was ONE major chain supermarket in the entire neighborhood, which meant that some areas of the neighborhood were several miles from the supermarket. This is not a problem for families that own cars. But many people in my neighborhood couldn't afford cars. And when the state auto insurance laws changed when I was a child, a lot of people who previously had cars couldn't afford the insurance and had to either get rid of their cars or stop legally driving them. This meant that people either had to take public transportation several miles -- and often with multiple connections -- to shop at the supermarket. Or they had to shop for groceries at small markets, convenience stores, or bodegas. Worse than this, the entire time I was growing up, my cousins lived in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, in which there was (at that time) NO major supermarket serving the community of tens of thousands of people.

These smaller markets and convenience stores typically contain very little fresh produce and fresh meat -- imagine having to shop for your family at a 7-11. The produce they have is generally very low quality and quite expensive. The small selection of meat and dairy at these smaller stores is often of very questionable freshness and not stored at safe temperatures, so people avoid buying it. Shopping at markets like these means buying processed, shelf stable foods because the "fresh" foods are so often spoiled and/or prohibitively priced.

Adam Drewnowski, of the University of Washington, has done a significant amount of research on the links between access to "fresh" foods and rates of obesity in low-income communities:
The economics of food choice behavior: why poverty and obesity are linked. (2012)
The economics of food choice b... [Nestle Nutr Inst Workshop Ser. 2012] - PubMed - NCBI

Obesity, diets, and social inequalities. (2009)
Obesity, diets, and social inequalities. [Nutr Rev. 2009] - PubMed - NCBI

Food choices and diet costs: an economic analysis. (2005)
Food choices and diet costs: an economic analysis. [J Nutr. 2005] - PubMed - NCBI

The economics of obesity: dietary energy density and energy cost. (2005)
The economics of obesity: dietary energy dens... [Am J Clin Nutr. 2005] - PubMed - NCBI
There is an inverse relationship between energy density of foods (kJ/g) and energy cost ($/MJ), such that energy-dense grains, fats, and sweets represent the lowest-cost dietary options to the consumer. Good taste, high convenience, and the low cost of energy-dense foods, in conjunction with large portions and low satiating power, may be the principal reasons for overeating and weight gain. Financial disparities in access to healthier diets may help explain why the highest rates of obesity and diabetes are found among minorities and the working poor.
The "restaurants" in the low-income, black, Chicago neighborhood that I grew up in consisted ENTIRELY of fast-food chicken and fast-food fried fish outlets. There isn't even a McDonald's within several miles of my parents' house -- yes, my neighborhood is too poor to support a McDonald's, I kid you not. This means that the only consistently available "fresh" vegetable dish a person can buy in my parents' neighborhood is COLESLAW. Popeye's sometimes has collard greens, but not always -- and they're a stringy, sad excuse for greens. The KFC in my parents' neighborhood has had a sign up -- for as long as I can remember -- that says "We apologize. Tomatoes are unavailable due to a problem with our supplier." They've had that tomato problem for, like, 20 years.

One of my close friends from college grew up in the Harlem neighborhood in New York City and she moved back to the neighborhood after college. She says that there are more fresh food opportunities available to her now, because of community farming initiatives and because the community co-ops have fresh, affordable meat from farms in upstate New York. But to buy from the co-ops and community farms, a person has to volunteer a minimum amount of monthly hours working at the co-op or working on the farm, which many people who have jobs (or more than one job) and especially people who have kids are not able to do. Also, a lot of the residents are not even aware of the existence of the co-ops and neighborhood farms.

This is an extremely complex social problem that is not necessarily about what people *want* to eat but rather what is most readily *available* to eat.
Good post! I was watching Weight of the Nation and they discussed how some poor areas did not have any supermarkets in them at all, and I think that's such a shame. I never knew that before. How can we wage a war against obesity in America without giving everyone the opportunity to fresh healthy food? That's the problem right there. It's like trying to bail water out of a sinking boat without plugging up the whole. First you have to fix the whole. What good is it to tell people how to eat when they have no access to the food they need?
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Old 05-16-2013, 02:59 PM   #56
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Well, I second aishka's thank you for bringing this up, Trillex!

I used to work with a family in the Kenwood neighborhood in Chicago and spent a lot of time in their home and their neighborhood, which was much as you describe in terms of poverty and lack of anything healthy to eat. They did have a mcdonalds, but I think that was probably the pinnacle of accommodations there. There were lots of snack cakes eaten for breakfast there, and very little of what a lot of us would consider real food. During my weight loss journey, I often think about the people in Kenwood and places like that and think, what on earth would I do if I was there living in that sort of poverty and very obese and having the health issues that I've had (I am horrified to think what kind of care a child who is dx'd w type I gets there -- I had no health insurance for my first year there, so I do have some idea). I think it would be so hard on so many levels, nearly, if not actually, impossible to do what it takes to lose and get/be healthy.

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These smaller markets and convenience stores typically contain very little fresh produce and fresh meat -- imagine having to shop for your family at a 7-11. The produce they have is generally very low quality and quite expensive. The small selection of meat and dairy at these smaller stores is often of very questionable freshness and not stored at safe temperatures, so people avoid buying it. Shopping at markets like these means buying processed, shelf stable foods because the "fresh" foods are so often spoiled and/or prohibitively priced.
Yes! I have been in these grocery stores in Chicago, NYC, and San Diego among other places. They don't smell right to a person who is used to shopping at Vons or Shaw's or Stop & Shop or Safeway. I am pretty sure that if I had to shop there (and in Kenwood there was one of these stores and I did go in on a number of occasions looking for food to buy), I would stick to things that were mass produced, sealed, and had no real chance of spoiling, ie, kraft macaroni and cheese and the like (though maybe I'd have to find something that didn't require dairy to make -- doritoes I suppose).

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I tip my hat to the people who make an effort to leave their neighborhoods via public transportation to improve their family's food quality but it is clearly a burden to do so, even in New York City. It was a hassle for ME getting from Point A to Point B just carrying bags of books on the subway -- not even taking the impossible journey from the Upper West Side to the Upper East Side via Midtown. And I would see these exhausted-looking women pulling those plaid grocery carts onto the subway -- and up and down those horrible subway stairs, through crowds of commuters -- and I thought to myself, "Do they have to do this every week? More than once a week?" With a full-time job -- or more than one job -- it isn't a negligible task to commute across New York City to buy groceries. And it is a documented fact that most low-income people don't do it.
I applaud nolcjunk for being so proactive and, definitely tip my hat to those who live in very poor parts of NYC and travel via subway/bus to do their shopping. I don't think it's impossible. But in my three years that I lived in NYC I think I only did a real grocery shopping trip 2 or 3 times. I was really busy (going to law school at NYU) and groceries were the last thing I was worried about. And carrying grocery bags and laptop and big law books, etc, on the train was very unappealing. I picked up stuff at the various "delis" that you see everywhere (at least in the wealthier neighborhoods) that had those hot/cold food bars, and you could get some fresh veg and better-for-you stuff at those. But I can certainly imagine how people would not be wanting to kill themselves and spending six bucks to go grocery shopping.

Plus, ya know, I was being pretty lazy about the fact that I had a bunch of books and whatnot to carry because of my circumstances at the time. But I can only imagine what kinds of burdens extreme poverty heap on a person. Just about everything is harder when you're poor, and things even cost more when you're poor. I am sure that a lot of people in very rough neighborhoods just feel like they've got bigger problems to address.

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This is anecdotal, so it doesn't *prove* anything, but I grew up in a very poor Chicago neighborhood and I've never been to Ikea or even Wal-Mart. These stores don't exist in my neighborhood and I didn't even know what Ikea was until I went to boarding school and everybody else's futon -- another thing that I didn't know existed -- was from Ikea. Poverty has a way of limiting perspectives as well options, regardless of logistical possibilities. So I think we need to consider additional cultural issues, which indicate that low-income residents of New York City -- even lifelong New Yorkers -- don't necessarily have the information that you -- who are clearly an educated and informed person -- has with regard to options for healthy food shopping in other areas of New York City.
The kids that I was working with in Kenwood, who were 9 and 11 when I met them, lived maybe four miles from downtown Chicago, had NEVER BEEN THERE until I took them! They had never been to a movie theater or the zoo or a museum. EVER. I think many people around them would grow up not giving almost any thought to the fact that snack cakes aren't a great breakfast and, if they did, they might not have much of an idea of what the alternatives would be. They've got an awful lot of heavier, more important stuff to be thinking about.
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Old 05-16-2013, 03:47 PM   #57
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I know nothing about detroit but I do know about social science research and how it isn't always the whole truth.
I know a lot about Detroit and you can probably take the worst story Trillex has heard and multiply it by two and be pretty close to the truth.
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Old 05-16-2013, 04:28 PM   #58
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Definitely. I have lived in bunch of neighborhoods in Manhattan, from the upper west side to the east village to Washington heights to alphabet city, and more, and the difference in food availability is stark. To say that people have no problem with access to fresh food is simply not true.

My aunt has lived in the same apartment in Washington Heights since I was a kid, and there were nothing but bodegas within many blocks for years upon years. Things are better now, but for a long while, she had to get down to the decrepit--and ridiculously expensive-- C-Town market in Harlem (dozens of blocks away) on the bus, and then drag the groceries back. She did, but it was a struggle that many of her neighbors didn't or couldn't make.

Just because the trains and buses exist doesn't make it easy or even possible for everyone.
I did not own a car for over 10 years, and live in a place where the bus was my only option for public transportation. My neighborhood grocery store has a great selection of fresh foods, but is more expensive than other chains so I try to avoid it.

There was a cheaper store 5 miles away, and it was an hour long trip each way. Add in time spent shopping and waiting at the bus stop, and it usually took 2 1/2 to 3 hours just to get groceries. This wasn't bad in nice weather, but we have long hot summers. Taking the bus also meant that I could only buy what I was able to carry, which only added to the frustration.
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Old 05-16-2013, 08:59 PM   #59
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Going to the poverty issue - if you are a lower class person, working 2 jobs.... picture the time and effort involved in taking the subway to your grocery store, hauling back your 13 lb pork shoulder, and cooking it... when? In between your two jobs? You can see why ramen noodles seem like a much more attractive option.
I walk to and from work. I don't own a car. I do all of my own cooking, and don't have a lot of time to do it. I cook the way I do to save time and money. I can cook once (12 hours overnight) and put enough prepared food in the fridge and freezer to make lunch and dinner for a week or two.

Ultimately, you are right:

It's easier to be lazy than industrious.
Rice is cheaper than meat.
Fast food is faster than cooking for yourself.
Driving is easier than walking.
Planning requires more effort than living in the moment.

And if we want to follow this train of thought all the way down; there are people for whom affording a package of ramen noodles is the line between hunger and satiety. There are people who will not always afford to eat anything at all. Some of those people starve to death.

I am no stranger to raising a family in abject poverty. I live in an apartment that has rained raw sewage on me. Three times this year. That doesn't exactly go under 'first world problems', eh? I subsisted almost entirely on ramen noodles for 15 years. 6 packages a day. It got me to a place where I was too fat to walk.

I'm not placing moral judgement here - Some people are genuinely too poor to afford to eat low carb. For most of us, though, we make choices that enable or restrict us from these options. I choose not to pay the overhead on owning a vehicle. To live close enough to work to walk. To plan and prepare my own meals weeks in advance order to defray the costs of low carb. Not to have cable television - or any other monthly expenditures that I don't technically need. I choose to go the extra mile to make it possible.

Not because I am "better" than people who do not, but because it is a priority I have chosen above those other things. In return, I've reclaimed my health in a big way.
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Old 05-16-2013, 09:13 PM   #60
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No doubt about it. Eating the processed junk is cheaper.
For today.
But down the road YOU WILL PAY...
when you factor in the doctors bills, medications, surgeries, and assistive devices you will need, it's easy to see how misleading this apparant saving really is.
Not to mention how do you put a price tag on feeling healthy and vital as opposed to sluggish and in chronic pain?
LOL...a few years ago when I started this journey, I came up with the slogan "spend your money at the grocery store, or the doctor. It's your choice." I believe that to be COMPLETELY true.
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