Discussion: This Indian Reservation Just Passed a Junk Food Tax. Too Bad Junk Food Is All You Can Buy

Discussion for article #235590

How about figuring out a way for them to grow there own food, have their own herds? Heifer International?

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It’s truly shameful when we have to call on Heifer International to help feed our own citizens.

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You are right. I learned so much (and was dismayed) by the MSNBC special about all of the food which is wasted in this country - especially the fruits and vegetables which are dumped because Americans want their celery packaged a certain way, etc. There are so many creative minds among us that we could certainly find a way to begin matching excess with need.

So what did they eat in the 1940s before there was this kind of junk food available and there were no grocery stores? Seems like that’s an obvious starting point.

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31 min (26.3 mi) via NM-264 W
That’s the distance/travel time between Window Rock,AZ and Gallup, NM, which has several grocery stores, including a Walmart and Safeway. Among this entire tribe, they can not marshal the resources and ingenuity to organize a grocery shopping trip, even once or twice a month? Many people in this country spend half an hour getting to a decent grocery store. The plight of this tribe seems to be of their own limitations.

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Blame them…

That’s the ticket.

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If you read the article they have done that twice and the government destroyed the herds in the first case and destroyed half of them the second time. The U.S. Gov’t is the enemy.

There are cultural aspects to Navajo diets, just like any other. And communities should look at them from a public health perspective, also.

There have been climate changes. In New Mexico, certain areas that supported farming of pinto beans, etc. can no longer do so.

LImitations like poverty?

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If you have ever driven across the Navajo Nation (I live in NM and have many times) you will see many local Navajos traveling on foot (and not hitchhiking). Why? They can’t afford to own a car or drive. Plus, for many centuries foot travel was part their culture.

So 26.3 miles between Window Rock and Gallup would be a nice nine-hour stroll to get to a “decent grocery store.” And then nine-hours home.

Their “limitations” are that they are 1.) living in a very rural area, 2.) that rural area isn’t that great for raising anything other than lots of sheep, and 3.) they make a whole lot less than you.

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The Navajo Nation is valiantly fighting stereotypes that stubbornly persist: the poor resourceless downtrodden indigenous. These are only a few of their recent achievements, including a new rural electric bus. I commend them to your reading.
Navajo Nation’s new Rural Electric Bus:
http://www.navajo-nsn.gov/News%20Releases/OPVP/2015/apr/NTS%20Electric%20Bus%20Media%20Advisory.pdf

Navajo Nation’s recent allocation of $1.1M to consituent services:
http://www.navajo-nsn.gov/News%20Releases/OPVP/2015/mar/President%20Shelly%20Approves%20$1.1%20Million%20for%20LDA%20Program.pdf

Opening of new $6.6M Shiprock Youth Center:
http://www.navajo-nsn.gov/News%20Releases/OPVP/2015/mar/President%20Shelly%20Approves%20$1.1%20Million%20for%20LDA%20Program.pdf

Okay, but I’m going to bet they don’t produce much of the milk, eggs, or ingredients of pizza there either. Even if they have to be brought in from outside, dry beans are a whole lot easier and cheaper to ship around than almost any kind of junk food, even to a little shop where there’s no supermarket. So why aren’t they?

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A few years ago I was privileged to visit the Navajo Nation as part of a USDA delegation visiting from Washington, DC. As this article points out, the Navajo – like many of the poor throughout rural America – suffer from the health consequences of a poor and very limited diet. But junk foods are only part of the problem.

Corn is the staple food in the Navajo diet. For many generations, Navajo farmers had produced traditional varieties of blue corn, which are lower in glucose, higher in anti-oxidants, and slower digesting. In recent decades, the Navajo farmers had largely switched to yellow corn, which is very high in glucose and comparatively low in anti-oxidants. The yellow corn is faster growing and higher yielding, factors that encouraged the local farmers to switch.

According to local leaders and tribal officials, much of the diabetes, obesity and other bad health outcomes came with the switch to yellow corn. Local leaders were beginning to encourage farmers to switch back to blue corn production, and they reported to us that in the areas of the Nation where local farmers were switching back to blue corn, the rates of diabetes and obesity were dropping back significantly. While this is anecdotal, the local leaders told us that they hadn’t made any other major dietary changes other than switching back to their traditional blue corn.

While the corn issue is only part of the problem, it appears to have potential to improve health throughout the Navajo Nation.

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No, western US semi-arid areas are not England. There is very little capacity for grazing. And Navajo Nation is a dust bowl today.

They also switched to potato chips and Coke. The traditional corn based diet was not that great either. But going back to ancestral puebloan days they raised beans and squashes along with the corn, and also ate berries, yucca, pheasants, etc.

What they didn’t have was delicious Hershey Bars, Hostess cupcakes, potato chips, sodas, etc. for sale down the road.

Because the demand is for potato chips and sodas and hot dogs. Any even small rural store could and would sell refrigerated apples and carrots and frozen vegetables if there was a demand.