• Both feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment when they succeed.
They face the same challenges:
• Both are seriously underfunded,
• Both know what they need to do to provide maximum health to their charges, but lack even the non-financial resources to do so.
• Both feel that good food is key to a vibrant and healthful life.
I have no idea how it came to me, but I came up with a one-word-notion approach to make the connection obvious, and dubbed the physicians in underserved communities the new American "PHarmers." I thought, "Man, this is kitschy." But the team said, "Works for us!" Therefore, I introduced the notion that because we are giving these noble folks the ability to provide the food their patients so desperately need to make the lifestyle change that can prevent expensive diseases, "PHarmers" seems appropriate.
After all, it's all about the food when it comes to diet-related, preventable health conditions that cost American taxpayers over $800 billion annually.
Seems like common sense: Shift money from expensive treatments toward the food that the folks who suffer from obesity-related disease need in order to become, well, un-obese. The money also creates economic stimulus and jobs instead of record profits and dividends for very few people on the treatment side.
At this point in preparing, I realized that I had to deal with the serious misinformation and misperception that exists in the minds of many Americans, because their votes drive policy and, frankly, hatred. Many Americans believe they know why obesity is so rampant, but they truly don't.
Lots of people in the sustainable food movement know why underserved community members are in the condition they are in—because we work there. Besides, some of the folks I'm addressing happen to be relatives and friends of mine.
What Many Think
Underserved community members (often referred to as "those people," or "they"):
• Are lazy and should get a job
• Don't know how to cook
• Don't want good food; they want junk
Unfortunately, much of this misperception comes from widely published information created by folks who usually agree with the sustainable food movement. I looked hard at the following two popular statements and felt they need adjustment:
• Rising rates of obesity in children and adults stems from poor food choices.
• The vast majority of obese children and adults live in food deserts with no access to healthful food.
Bullet number one implies that given the choice between good and bad food, community members will make a "poor choice." This has been proven flat wrong, because most of these children and adults live in places where they can buy food only from a liquor store, gas station, or convenience store—none of which offer healthful foods.
They have no choice.
Bullet number two is interesting in that it debunks bullet number one, but then does not paint an accurate picture. While most folks in these communities do live in food deserts, many live in "shifting sands" neighborhoods—places where they can actually get to a grocery store. When they do, they find the only food they can afford is the carb-laden, highly processed stuff available at the liquor store near home.