Part Three – Farmers Markets

It became clear very quickly that my original plan for studying farmers markets in the bronx was not attainable. There were simply not enough resources to use to get in contact with the markets. Even though this was frustrating, it did prove my hypothesis that they would be relatively inaccessible. There are factors related to this problem. The economic and health statuses of residents of the Bronx are low. I began to study these areas to better understand the food situation in my borough. Even though the Bronx is not the heart of New York City, it still faces the many obstacles of an urban area. Pollution of all kinds is rampant in the Bronx. During the middle of the 20th Century, the Cross Bronx Expressway was built. This major roadway split the Bronx in two and destroyed neighborhoods. It was necessary to connect the North to the George Washington Bridge, which leads to New Jersey. Today, it is a rarity to see no traffic backups on this highway. The Bronx is flooded with cars and commercial trucks added dramatic amounts of air, noise, water, and visual pollution. The major roadways also lower the property value of the areas because no one wants to live near nonstop traffic. Therefore, only lower classes are left with no other option. This is why it is no surprise that Bronx residents have such poor health. According to the 2017 County Health Records for New York published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin, the Bronx is ranked last in Health Outcomes and Health Factors in the entire state. New York is one of the largest states in the country, and the Bronx is ranked 62 out of 62 counties. This is a tragic situation. Health Outcomes consists of length of life and quality of life. Health Records consists of health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and physical environment. Under each specific health factor, the Bronx is ranked 62, except for health behaviors where it falls 58th. One of the factors this study took into consideration is food environment index. Unfortunately, it only provides a small description. The description tells us that only two variables are measured, which are USDA’s Food Environment Atlas of access to healthy foods and food insecurity from Feeding America. Both of these simply mean that people are close to food. Unsurprisingly, the Bronx scored a 7.1 out of 10. This is close to the average and sounds relatively optimistic. However, like I mentioned before the number of grocery stores is not the issue. There are almost 2 million Bronx residents in 42 square feet of land. It is a crowded place with many stores and shopping centers because it is an urban area. The issue is that these grocery stores are not quality. I’ve spent a lot of time in different states and countries, where I have visited many grocery stores, since I personally do a lot of the grocery shopping and planning for my family. The different between stores in the Bronx and stores in other areas is drastic. Shortly after I started living in Virginia, I noticed how great these differences are and often commented on the state of the Bronx. When I reflect on it, which this project forced me to do, it makes me angry that the Bronx has become the way it is. New York City is an extremely wealthy city, however so little of that money is diverted to the people in need in the Bronx. This is what motivated me to start researching the economics of the Bronx and the entire New York City. This included the finances of individuals and the public government. I already mentioned how the income of families in the Bronx is half of those in Manhattan. Researching the budget of New York City was not an easy task. Especially for someone with little economic background, public money is extremely complicated. Even though it is public information, these are so many parts that is it difficult to even know where to begin. I tried as best as I could. I was hoping to discover a breakdown of the budget by borough. However, there is little mention of the individual borough. Instead, the budget is broken down by departments. Since the budgets of each department is more significant than the budgets of the boroughs, the areas where people are willing to reach out to their politicians and public servants are more likely to receive more funding. This theme runs true for many areas. People with money and resources, especially time, are more willing to receive the benefits of the government. Bronx residents are not going to typically do that. When people are suffering in an area, the complexities of the society are also working together to bring them down.

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