Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fresh & Easy and the Lower SES Set Back!

Fresh & Easy is Retreating From It’s British Invasion:  So What’s the Big Deal?

After taking a $1.8 billion hit (yes! Billion!) England’s Fresh and & Easy is closing its doors in California, Nevada and Arizona.  The significance?   Well, we could have a discussion of the 5,000 jobs that are to be terminated but there is a more dire issue that needs to be digested.   

Some might think there is no real impact of its closed doors; after all, it certainly was no Whole Foods (before we learned about the CEO’s philosophies and politics).  The digestion is this:  
When I was working as a mental health clinician in the inner city of Watts, Compton and the South Los Angeles area working for the lower social economic status (SES) population I had to drive around frequently for home visits.  My reality was there were no stops to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf or Pinkberry Yogurt shops for breaks.  They just weren’t around.  What you saw were miles and miles of billboards promoting liquor and alcoholic beverages.  There were the fast food chains.  And plenty of them.  And there was never a thought about seeing a Whole Foods type organic store.  Because were were none.  These lower SES areas suffer because there just are not enough proprietors and stores available to support nutrition and healthy living. But about 5 years ago here comes Fresh & Easy – there was optimism.  Lower life expectancy,  Obesity, cancers, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other heart diseases become prevalent in these poverty stricken areas due to the lack of support in nutritional health in the lower SES communities.  Thus, when we talk about such items as organic foods, free ranged produce,  agave syrup, and organic almond butter these are nutritional standards for some.  But in many poverty stricken communities these are luxury items that are not options in the family food management (and frequently they are not even known). So this closure of Fresh & Easy is significant and sad.  As the First Lady, Michelle Obama, has campaigned for healthier living with her Let’s Move program, and as Fresh & Easy opened some 200 stores about five years ago in the inner cities there was hope that nutrition and healthy living might become more accessible.   So, now that Fresh & Easy’s ambitious opportunity to support the very communities that needed healthy living the most has sailed back across the pond what are we to do about the negative impact of poor nutrition on America’s lower SES and the population at large? And if you think this discussion isn't the door opener to poor mental health in the lower SES community then think again!  

Read more about Dr. Strayhorn's practice and philosophy...

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