Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

SYDNEY PRESTON COLUMN: It's about access, not heredity


December 23, 2019

Sydney Preston is a Biology and Public Health double-major student at Hamline University in St. Paul. Born and raised in Kelliher, she spent a good portion of her time in Bemidji, which included the weekly shopping trip at Walmart.

In Bemidji, you do not need a calendar to know when the first day of the month is. When you go to get groceries at Walmart at this time, it is similar to a Black Friday-esque experience; the parking lots are as packed as the aisles, shoulder-to-shoulder. Witnessing this, it made me wonder why there seems to be a lack of access to grocery stores nearby, specifically on reservations. Along with this, it makes you wonder as to if there is a correlation between this fact and the high rates of diabetes type 2 among Native Americans. I think there is.

Evidence suggests that the nutrition environment on Native American reservations is characterized by few supermarkets and many gas station-type stores, a moderate availability of fresh produce, and a reliance on off-reservation stores for regular or bulk shopping. The lack of healthier options available on reservations has a direct correlation to the higher rate of diabetes; how is someone supposed to have a healthy diet if there is nothing healthy available within a reasonable distance?


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