Food and the Inner City: A Product Of Our Environment

Will Steacy
Will Steacy
Closed Grocery Store On Block Lined With Vacant Buildings
Looking South From Fulton Street & Garvey Avenue, Brooklyn, 2009

For his project “A Product of Our Environment,” photographer Will Steacy documented how food is marketed and sold in New York City neighborhoods, many of which have reported high rates of poverty, obesity, diabetes and people living without health insurance. The project was funded by a grant from the Aperture Foundation (with support from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund) and was tied to a city-wide program called the Green Cart Initiative, which sought to provide affordable, healthy food options in under-served neighborhoods. Steacy writes, “I set out to create a visual record of the food options that surround the Green Carts…I want the photographs from this series to function not only as evidence of the food options and resources available, but also to reveal the everyday challenges and realities that define life in the inner city. When you have $10 in your pocket and your next paycheck is two days away, you don’t have many options—you are eating McDonalds. I believe that the project can contribute to the national conversation about health care by giving a record of the correlation between sickness and socio-economic status and resources for proper nutrition. In one of the Bronx neighborhoods where I photographed, for example, 41% of the residents live below the poverty line—one in three adults report that they are in fair or poor health, more than a quarter are obese, one in ten have diabetes, and one in three are without health insurance.”

For more information about the Green Cart Initiative, visit Aperture.org.

Will Steacy’s A Product of Our Environment is being exhibited at the Museum of the City of New York through September 5, 2011.

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