When I took on the $46 Challenge this was one of the problems that academic economists sited as to why the poor were obese. I thought this was bullshit due to my own personal experience. I routinely ride my bike to the farmer's market every sunday to get produce. It's 2 miles each way and takes me about 20 mins to get there. There are 3 grocery stores closer than that to me (not in a food desert). And another one, one more mile farther. The reason I go is because it's cheaper, but that's not the point. My bigger concern is that there are 25 fast food restaurants within that same radius.
While listening to NPR this morning and citing this same study, they found that even when new stories came in within half a mile of them, they still did not shop there. The study was conducted for 6 months. Why? Well a big reason after asking people with simple. They didn't know how to cook produce or how to prepare it a tasty manner. They simply didn't know how to cook! When the stores started having cooking lessons this began to change.
This seemed crazy to me when I first heard it but it rings true. My grandmothers were great cooks! They always cooked at home. My parents are good cooks, but not great. I'm an average cook. Cooking is a skill and it has slowly been degraded over the generations to the point that kids today don't even know how to cook rice. So much of what we eat today is prepackaged processed food that it takes little more than a microwave to prepare. I'll be the first to admit that if I knew how to cook better than I do than I could have come up with healthier and cheaper dishes for the $46 Challenge than what I did.
Parents if you want to ward of obesity and poverty in your children. Teach them to cook. If you don't know how to, learn!