Tuesday, March 27, 2012

La Feria vs. Fast Food

Aside from the earthquakes and the qualitative analysis trainings we’ve experienced this week, we have been trying to incorporate plentiful fruits and vegetables as a part of our everyday meal. I especially look forward to La Feria or the “street market” that takes place during the weekends. There are a wide array of fresh produce that are recognizable to us, but some comes in different shapes and sizes. The feria either takes up an entire parking lot or blocks off a long sidewalk. It attracts a lot of people that are just enjoying the scene or buying specific items. Sometimes, I’ll see dozens of individual booth selling similar things, while other vendors would sell fish, assorted flowers, personal hygiene products, books, and much more.

Since we had the fundamental experience with the fa
st food here, we were on the hunt for fresh foods and more traditional Chilean dishes. Most of the restaurants we found served large portions of foods with a lot of meat. We typically take the rest of what we had left to eat at home. Chile also has a diverse selection of seafood to offer since it is a country along the coastline afterall. Still, the price is not favorable to many of us and is not as accessible as the fried foods here. Many studies found that adolescents and the low SES population turn to completos (hotdogs) and fried empanadas as part of their every day diet. I can only imagine this to be true since these popular foods items can be found at almost any restaurants and street vendors for less than one US dollar.

When we investigated in the background of our research, we learned that the obesity rate is projected to rise over the next decade. At first, it was hard to pinpoint that problem right away since we recognize that smoking was much more prevalent in the city. Smoking in restaurants and bars are not strictly enforced although the public health campaign against smoking is aggressive as seen in Perlita’s post here. We can tell with careful observations of the built environment that it was apparent why people may become sedentary and opt for high density foods. Cities like Los Angeles and Santiago, where it is densely populated with road traffic can impact physical activity. I believe that developing opportunities to allow for urban open space in neighborhoods across the city and building environmentally friendly mode of transportation will contribute to public health and well-being of the community. In Chile, the shift in socioeconomic and demographic demonstrates these rapid changes; however it is great to know that institutions and policymakers are recognizing the need to take action.

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