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Healthy Food Access

Many New Orleans residents live in neighborhoods that are considered “food insecure.” Residents in these areas are swamped with processed convenience foods that are saturated with sugar, salt, and fat, but they have little or no access to a sustainable source of fresh, healthy vegetables. According to the “Minding the Meal Gap” survey conducted by Feeding America in 2011, 23 percent of households in Orleans parish are food insecure.

Research indicates that a lack of fresh food contributes to poor diet, obesity, and diet-related disease. The latest annual “F as in Fat” report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health shows Louisiana topping the obesity charts at 34.7 percent.

Home gardening enhances a household’s food security by providing direct access to fresh, healthy foods and increases purchasing power by saving money on grocery bills. Home gardening also contributes to healthy eating habits and increased physical activity.

Research shows that children are twice as likely to eat daily recommendations of fruits and vegetables if the food is homegrown. Encouraging children to eat fresh produce has been shown to establish healthy eating choices and improve long-term health.

Growing your own food also increases the nutritional value of your meals. Once fruits and vegetables are harvested, they begin breaking down their own organic material for energy. As a result, the nutrients begin to disappear. Most produce at grocery stores has been transported several hundred miles from the farm, to a warehouse, to your store, which takes about a week on average. Due to this transport time, grocery store produce has often lost almost half of its original nutritional value by the time you purchase it. There is nothing healthier than consuming food that has been freshly harvested.


 
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