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South Los Angeles’ (Fast) Food Fight

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There is no abundance of money in South Los Angeles, California, but there is an abundance of fast food; in fact, it’s the easiest cuisine to find. The residents have little access to healthier food because of the lack of grocery stores and fresh produce.

The City Council is to vote on this issue in an attempt to attract grocery stores, fresh produce markets, and “full-service restaurants with wait staff and food prepared to order.” They hope to hit the area with a moratorium on new fast food restaurants, saying that where there is fast food, there is obesity – and no room for healthier options.

The California Restaurant Association (CRA) takes issue with council’s intent, and for good reason – but not for the most relevant reason. CRA spokesman Andrew Casana says fast food “is the only industry that wants to be in South L.A. Sit-down restaurants don't want to go in. If they did, they'd be there. This moratorium isn't going to help them relocate."

That’s very true, Andrew. Here’s another truism: Most sit-down restaurants are no healthier than fast food restaurants. Some of the unhealthiest offenders on the list of the “20 Worst Foods in America” (a list dominated by sit-down restaurants) include Ruby Tuesday, Macaroni Grill, Lonestar, Chili’s, On the Border, and Outback Steakhouse.

Doctor of Integrative Medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil, and internationally acclaimed holistic nutritionist, Dr. Gillian McKeith, have long fought the misperception that fruit and vegetables, because they cost more per pound than fast food, will tax a family budget.

The reality is that when the majority of your diet consists of fruits and vegetables, you will fill up faster on less food and you won't be hungry again for quite a while. Too, the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables boosts your energy and helps you fight off disease and infection.

The opposite is true of fast food, which takes more to fill you up and leaves you feeling hungry again much sooner than a healthier meal. Too, fast food’s nutritional value is negligible and depletes energy levels. It not only impedes the body’s ability to fight off disease and infection, it can, over time, cause and accelerate disease.

The same is true of food from many sit-down restaurants, some of which offer heaping (but hidden) servings of bad fats and off-the-chart levels of sodium under the guise of, behind the labels of, and even under or on a bedding of foods that really are healthy.

The City Council is more than a wee bit out of touch with the community if it thinks there is a solution other than joining forces with the county’s agriculture and extension offices, opening up their own community sponsored fresh produce markets, and making public land available to those who would like to grow (and even sell) some of their own food.

Word to the South L.A. wise: Find those few and far between fresh produce markets that do exist in your area and use the seeds from your purchases to plant your own garden. Buying (or growing) and eating fruits and vegetables isn’t just better for you; it also costs less over a period of just a few days than does shelling out one’s limited number of shekels for shit food.

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About Diana Hartman

Diana is a USMC (ret.) spouse, mother of three and a Wichita, Kansas native. She is back in the United States after 10 years in Germany. She is a contributing author to Holiday Writes. She hates liver & motivational speakers. She loves science & naps.
  • Realist

    Who is the city of LA to tell the people of South LA what kind of restaurants they can have? Reeks of big government and the mindset that they are too dumb to make the right choices. How elitist

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Has the city of LA looked into how many gyms are in South LA? Sure, the quality & quantity of food that you consume is important BUT if you’re not “Working Out” then you’ll become obese as well. Fruits have a lot of sugar which turns into fat in your system. Plenty of vegetables have carbs which can build up as fat in your body.

    If fast food restaurants are frying foods in oils that have no trans fats and the food themselves has no trans fats AND these restaurants are under more scrutiny than sit down restaurants, I would have to agree that sit down chain establishments are more dangerous to one’s health.

  • gossett

    you’re telling people who live in south LA to grow their own fruits and vege…have you ever even been to south LA…there is a lack of grocery stores because the corners are filled up with alcohol and gun shops…few people barely even care about their kids who usually grow up to be gang members anyway…maybe its from their awesome school system wonder what the kids are eating for lunch..eating healthy is the least of south LA problems.

  • SouthCentralBungalow

    South LA does NOT have alcohol and gun shops on every corner.

    It does however have a lot of empty buildings along the main streets that sit there and never open. It would be really nice if there were more sit-down restaurant options here. Even though I can agree with your article that sometimes a sit down meal can be just as bad as a fast food meal, there is a side benefit to a sit down, non-drive through restaurant. Sit down restaurants give people the chance to see other residents of their community face to face. A place to hang out with, and interact with other people. People don’t go to restaurants just for the food, they also go for the atmosphere.