Yesterday, I posted a…well, a post, I guess…about how I disagree with going the legal route in trying to make the world healthier. Instead, I argued that people should discipline themselves instead of blaming others and/or making ineffective laws that change no one.
Unfortunately, I left out one key point: the cost. A friend of mine reminded me that if you’re a low-income American, health is almost never an option. As she put it, “A cheeseburger is still under a dollar. A salad is around five. ”
Staying healthy is expensive. Chemical-free foods, healthy foods or even healthier alternatives, doctors, medicine, and insurance all add up a hefty bill. On the other hand, high fats, sugars, and carbs are usually dirt cheap. McDonald’s has a value menu. Panera Bread does not.
Please hear me: when I said that people need to take more control of themselves, I wasn’t speaking to those without means. Depending on the source, it appears that 45-50 million Americans are living in legal poverty. When you’re in that kind of situation, you can’t be picky. You get what’s cheap, no matter how bad it is for you because it’s that or nothing.
My friend used to live in a radically impoverished area. She says there was not one grocery store in the city limits. If you wanted to actually shop for real food, you had to make a trip of it (which could be tricky without a car, adding insult to injury). Fast food chains, however, were on literally every corner.
Yes, the institution is broken. The poor have extremely limited options. I myself have learned the harsh truth about eating healthy on a budget: pretty much impossible. And I’m not even that poor–I can’t even imagine how others do it.
So I’m sorry if I insulted anybody with my last post. I didn’t mean to.
Still, I do stand by what I said: crippling the food companies with laws is not fixing the problem–in fact, keeping the poor in mind, it might even do worse! And trust me, the government can’t just say “Hey, make everything cheaper.”
So I repeat: fix the people, not the law. Help those who cannot help themselves. Reach out to the needy. Buy them some good groceries. Perhaps invite them to your house and make them a meal yourself! If you don’t know anybody in need, you can simply donate to a local food pantry–I’ve worked at some that provide good food for free. Or even a donation of money can help.
No, you can’t fix all the world’s problems. True, your gift only goes so far. But true compassion means doing the best you can with what you have.
As I said, I’m on the poorer side. I’m in school and, until recently, had no job. My wife was the sole breadwinner and she worked part time. I can’t tell you how much it meant when my friends an family invited me and my wife over to cook for us. Those home-cooked meals were a lovely treat. And like I said, I’m on the upper crust of the poor, so how much more with countless others enjoy your generosity?
Here’s my general point: stop expecting the government or other big organizations to make things better. They can’t whip the world into a healthy shape. We have to take responsibility for us. For some, it means making different choices. For others, it means empowering the unable.
Let’s take charge of us–ourselves and our community. No one else is going to do it.