According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most people in the United States can benefit from increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables. Compared to people who consume a diet with only small amounts of fruits and vegetables, people who eat a healthy diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke and possibly other cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers (CDC, 2011). Healthy eating is more than a matter of personal choice. Healthy food is not equally available to all community members. The lack of full service grocery stores, prohibitively high food costs, and a lack of information about healthy food preparation methods can prevent healthy eating. As the awareness of the link between urban form, diet, and public health outcomes grows, practitioners and policymakers are developing a better understanding of food access in their communities. Sustainable food systems provide an equitable distribution of resources including healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food, and economic opportunity for workers, producers, distributors, and retailers. Sustainable food systems increase community health nutritionally, economically, and socially.
In recent years problems associated with poor diets, including obesity, have been increasing across the country. Public health officials in Oregon and Washington are working hard to encourage children and adults to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their diets. However, this community-wide issue cannot be addressed by public health agencies alone. Strategies to address this issue can be implemented in schools and workplaces and through the provision of farmers markets and full service grocery stores. Through the evaluation of existing programs and the identification of populations with increased need, different sectors can gain a better understanding of what is and is not working and develop policies to drive change.