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Rural immigrants, food and health in Minnesota

Rural immigrants, food and health in Minnesota

Picture of Elizabeth Baier

With the help of a National Health Journalism fellowship, I will be working on a series of stories that focus on food and immigrants in rural Minnesota. In particular, the stories will examine the social, economic, cultural and psychological factors influencing food consumption practices among Minnesota's newest rural immigrant communities.

The reporting for this project will look at the health implications of the state's changing demographics and will use food as a lens through which to examine the current health concerns of the state's immigrants, primarily rising obesity and diabetes.

Minnesota is consistently ranked among the healthiest and most livable states in the country. However, overall health and wealth mask large disparities in physical, social and economic well-being among the growing diverse racial and ethnic groups in the state.

Overall, the stories will seek to answer the following questions: How are immigrants in rural Minnesota thinking about what they're eating? What are they doing to access fresh, healthy food? What toll have medical problems resulting from unhealthy food consumption taken in rural immigrants communities?

The three areas I plan to focus on are: the health disparities among Minnesota's immigrant rural communities and other reasons for their food consuption practices; childhood obesity among rural immigrants; and what government, private industry and social service agencies are doing to address what is largely a huge social vacuum.

I'll report and produce these stories for Minnesota Public Radio. They'll also be published online with multimedia components including photos, video and additional audio.

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