I’ve Got the Supermarket Blues: Ain’t One Around the Corner

Trump Child Abuse 1I’m not sure of the purpose of an article I read recently. The headline read: “Want healthy food?  In much of Mass., it’s hard to get.”  That word “Mass” is an abbreviation for the state of Massachusetts.  Having lived there I don’t recall  ever having faced that problem. It is not the Catholic Church Mass. If it were the latter it would make sense because it is rare to find healthy food at a Mass.

The article starts off about a woman who lives two miles from “the  nearest full service grocery store” which appears to be another name for supermarkets.  It takes her two hours to get there by public transportation on three buses. What is supposed to be done about this? Are we to build supermarkets at the corner of every street or within 1,000 feet of every home?

The article then makes the really brilliant observation: “But most of northern Berkshire County and nearly all of Hampden County are also low-access spots. In rural areas, people can drive miles before they find a grocery store. . . . ”  Obviously if you live out in the country then you’re not going to find many supermarkets there. Berkshire County has about 134 people for every square mile; Norfolk has 1575, and Suffolk has 6500. You cannot build a supermarket if there is no one to come.

Then the article notes many people in the rural areas have no cars. What are we to do about that? Buy them cars?

So what is to be done about this according to those who see this as a problem. It is: “Create a financing mechanism for building big grocery stores and renovating or expanding smaller ones.” I don’t see how that will help those people in the rural areas without cars.  Nor can you possibly build enough to put one close enough to all the people.

What is proposed is the state set up a multi-million dollar fund. It is unclear what the fund is to be for. Is it to build more supermarkets? It seems the article then switches to talk about “improve access to nutritious food.”  Going back it seems the problem is people who don’t want to make the effort to go to supermarkets get their food from “convenience stores more likely to sell chips and cookies than spinach and cauliflower.” That’s probably true but I’ve been in many supermarkets and it is not that I haven’t seen shopping carts filled with chips, cookies, cokes, ice cream and tons of other junk food. And to be fair and not use the word obese, these people seem to have a little extra weight as do the kids that follow them.

The article points out other states have healthy food plans. It then asks the question: “do these programs improve health?” It admits there is no evidence that it does but it assumes if people eat healthy foods they will have better health which I concede. But that sort of begs the questions of whether the people who are already eating chips, etc., will eat the healthy food. What is that old saw: “you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”

The article is confusing. It has a map with it that shows the rural areas are less well served with supermarkets than the populated areas but isn’t that expected. Nowhere does it tell of the impossibility of people being unable to get healthy food with a little effort.  Nowhere  does it talk about stores with healthy food but people using them who have little desire for healthy food. It is simply a push for more state money to be handed out to address a problem for which there is probably no solution.

I shouldn’t say that. There is a solution. If a person wants healthy food she can always get it with a little effort. As for the woman who takes two hours to get to the store two miles away I should point out that the pace of a slow march is 2.5 miles an hour. Even the slowest walker could get over the two miles in less than an hour so why doesn’t she walk back and forth. Plus, I’ve heard walking is healthy and combats all sorts of problems.  And, that the state is in financial difficulty.

12 thoughts on “I’ve Got the Supermarket Blues: Ain’t One Around the Corner

  1. Manufactured news, nonsense news–it’s what the Boston Globe is all about.

    The Globe is out of gas now, running on fumes–thanks only to their fake-news generator, which cranks out bits of weak outrage over Trump.

    May all New England add a little balance to their news intake, taking care not to go too far in the opposite direction.

  2. Excellent observations, Matt.

    Some reflexively see massive government expenditures as a solution to every problem.
    How did mankind survive for millennia without supermarkets?
    In 1910, 50% of Americans lived in rural areas. How did they feed themselves?

    Do they have Uber and taxis in Berkshire County?
    Food delivery services? Neighbors, churches and charities to help the elderly/disabled with shopping?
    PSAs, mailers, pamphlets to encourage healthy eating?

    In the 1800s, rural folk had a life expectancy ten years longer than urban dwellers; around 1970, the life expectancies were the same; today urban people are expected to live on average 79 years and rural folks 77 years. A two year difference. Do we really have a problem?

    Yes, rural folks have higher death rates from smoking (cancer, cardio), accidents (lack of access to emergency services) and obesity (high fat diets: “country cooking”; lack of exercise; and some say “lack of access to good nutrition.”; others say lack of access to gymnasiums.)

    There are some public health issues, but it is unlikely that the higher incident of obesity will be solved by building more supermarkets.

    Or go with the Big Government Solution: Build more supermarkets; build more superhighways (so ambulances can get to accidents quicker), more hospitals, more public gymnasiums, more tracks, more swimming pools, hire more coaches and phys-ed instructors, more community nutritionists to supervise mom’s home cooking and school nutritionists to teach kids how to eat right; hire more more cops to cut down on speeders on country roads; and hire more school nurses to tell those country kids to stop smoking. Soon, the US will be just like France with the Government consuming 57% of the GDP. Better yet, tax everyone until living in America is so healthy that’s it’s risk-free. Ban fatty foods, mandate exercise, ban smoking, ban alcohol, prohibit . . . oh, we already tried prohibition. But, there should be no amount of money spared to bridge the two-year gap in life expectancy between rural and urban persons, we all agree! The Government should require all rural adults to wake up at dawn and go for a four mile walk. That’s the solution. At least as reasonable as building more supermarkets!

  3. Yes, such thinking that every whine must be met by a government program has even reached the County.

    http://www.maine.gov/dacf/ard/senior_farm_share.shtml

    If you skim through it you will notice quickly that it is an extremely inefficient way to spread a small amount of money around only during harvest season to little or no effect. It is, on paper anyway, a bureaucrat’s dream of a pension. Think of it, for eight weeks $6.25 of fruits and veggies can be had, with a third or more to cover the price of gasoline, just for filling out forms.

    Matt has it right, solutions to unsolvable non-problems are not solutions. At best they are placebos; at worst, scams.

  4. Why do people live in these rural areas with poor public transportation and sparse opportunities to shop? It used to be that these were farms that they lived on and worked, but now it is the lower cost of housing and land (to build housing) and once there, the cost of moving elsewhere. The cost of necessary transportation needs to be included in the total cost of living in a particular location. Few, if any, public transportation schemes are self-supporting, instead relying on government subsidies. There is no government obligation to provide inexpensive, on-demand transportation to all. See Baumol’s Disease for an explanation of why some think that government should provide this service as part of the entitlement mind-set.

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/447720/baumols-disease-productivity-entitlements-problem-workforce-ages

    For a grocery store operator to open a store, there needs to be a large enough customer base to support profitability. If a large proportion of the customer demographics engages in activity such as shoplifting, then that will reduce profitability unless the store operator raises prices. When prices are raised, shoppers who have the means to shop elsewhere shop elsewhere. When a grocery store is insufficiently profitable, it is closed. There are no compelling reasons why a grocery store operator would subsidize an unprofitable store that offers no future of sustained profitability, unlike government subsidizing public transportation systems.

  5. “The good news, according to Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics based in Cleveland, is that there is actually very little difference between fresh, canned or frozen vegetables, so consumers shouldn’t blindly plunk down extra money for fresh produce.”
    Too much salt in canned veggies? Rinsing before use eliminates excess salt, the experts say.

  6. wa-llahi! It’s going to be war with Iran. That speech in Riyadh was amazingly insensitive, and, obtuse. Most of the people in the audience were tyrants in their own rights, devil puppets, shayatin, who terrorize their own peoples with barbaric prisons, and, outright tortures of medieval cruelty. Its becoming clear that Glorious Leader believes a major war will distract the American public from the treasonous corruption of his regime.

    1. I hope not! I don’t buy this bit that Iran is the major sponsor of terrorism. ISIS is. And Gulf State citizens (plus Turkey’s porous borders) have been the major enablers of ISIS. Iran threatens ISIS. Iran doesn’t threaten the US.
      The warmongers are the US neocons!
      In my humble opinion . . .

  7. One other non-sequitor:

    Why do the headlines say, “Notre Dame students walk out on Pence.”? Why not: “2,700 graduates of Notre Dame listen and applaud Vice President Mike Pence?”
    100 walked out; 2,700 stayed and listened.

    In 2006 when Condoleezza Rice spoke at Boston College. MSM headlines: “Rice greeted by protesters”; “Students turn back on Rice!”
    Here’s what happened: (I was there) She got 5 standing ovations from the 3,500 graduates and 30,000 crowd. Standing ovation as soon as she was introduced. After everyone sat down and starting listening to her speech, 50 rude students and 200 rude professors stood and turned their backs. That’s less than 1% of the entire audience; and 50 students out of 3,500 is less than 1% of students: not worth mentioning. During her speech, four more standing ovations.
    As for the 200 faculty protesters, it’s proof positive of how radical academia is — – they can’t bear hearing opposing views. (22% of BC’s faculty signed a petition asking BC to disinvite the Secretary of State.) Do you think if “no-fly zone” Hillary were invited under the serial war-monger Obama, any professor would protest? Of course not! Hypocrites. You didn’t hear a peep out of them during 8 years of Hillary/Obama’s wars!

  8. And when Secretary of State John Kerry gave the Commencement Address at Boston College in 2014, we heard nary a word in protest from the 200 professors. It seems their anti-war fervor dissipated into thin air. No demands to disinvite Kerry. No problem with the Obama administration bombing seven countries (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia).
    It seem they are anti-war only when a Republican is in the White House.
    As I said: Hypocrites!

  9. How could ANY editorial staff allow an article like that to be published? To annotate it for its inaccuracies and poor literary alignment is just too easy. I couldn’t read the whole thing. It was painful. As John Simon said in defending his brutal review of Valley Of The Dolls while only reading about a third of the book; “How much swill must I ingest before I am allowed to vomit?” (Jacqueline Susann came back with, “Its selling millions of copies! People like it.” and Simon replied, “Yes. And some people like to watch dogs copulate.”)

    Anyway, the article was pathetic and I could point out many ways to acquire healthy food regardless of your location within the borders of the State of Massachusetts.

    And by the way, Matt, healthy food is also hard to find at Mass executions.

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