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Tipping the Scales: Photos from Holmes and Routt counties

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Anthony Fisher runs on a shaded walking and jogging trail in Lexington, Miss. Fisher, 22, began gaining weight after he finished playing basketball in high school. He dedicated himself to losing weight and now works out regularly, in part to help inspire his younger brother, who plays basketball for a local small college. Losing the weight meant cutting local favorites like fried chicken out of his diet. Photo by Joel Reichenberger

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Holmes County, Miss., has one of the highest rates of obesity of any county in the U.S. Photo by Joel Reichenberger

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Runners showcase their physical fitness at the 2013 Steamboat Marathon. Routt County has kept its fit figure thanks to a populace largely focused on eating healthy and recreating outdoors on the hundreds of miles of the area’s ski, cycling and hiking trails. Photo by Joel Reichenberger

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Grocery stores in Holmes County’s larger cities are fairly standard, but stores in Holmes County’s more rural areas aren’t nearly as well stocked. The Tchula Grocery Center had little produce, and some of it, such as the lettuce, seemed rotten on the shelf. Store manager Mike Alhak said there’s not a lot of demand for produce, and that makes it difficult to keep things fresh. Photo by Joel Reichenberger

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Elvis Jennings, left, sells a basket of tomatoes in Lexington, Miss., on a hot July afternoon. Jennings also runs a leather shop in town but sells tomatoes, watermelons and other fruits and vegetables next to his building. He makes several trips each summer to Arkansas to stock up. Despite his endeavors to cater to Lexington’s healthy eaters, he doesn’t always partake in healthy meals himself, admittedly opting too often for gas station fried chicken two blocks away. Photo by Joel Reichenberger

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Ella Miller waits for customers in her Southern Barrel Restaurant in Lexington, Miss. Miller made an effort about nine years ago to break from regional tradition and cut out much of the fried food she offered and to eliminate the lard from her other dishes. That’s turned off some customers, she said, but many others still show up regularly for her home-cooked meals. Photo by Joel Reichenberger

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Durant, Miss., is the largest city in Holmes County and once was a major transportation hub for produce that was grown locally, then shipped out to markets in the North and other areas. Photo by Joel Reichenberger

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Lucille Meeky, warehouse manager for the Women, Infants and Children’s Nutrition Program in Holmes County, stocks shelves with fresh oranges. WIC is a federal supplemental food programs that helps new and expectant mothers as well as children younger than 5 receive healthy foods and health care referrals. In April of this year, 90,708 individuals participated in WIC in Mississippi alone. Photo by Joel Reichenberger

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The variety of crops grown in the 19th century in Holmes County, Miss., has given way to vast swaths of high-yield, high-return crops such as corn, and backyard vegetable patches and fruit trees have vanished. Photo by Joel Reichenberger

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The courthouse in Lexington, Miss., commands the town square. It was the site of early black voter registration efforts in the 1960s. Today, the city swirls around it and a monument in the lawn dedicated to the county’s 2,000 Confederate soldiers. Much of Holmes County’s troubles with obesity and poverty are lingering effects of slavery, now gone nearly 150 years. Photo by Joel Reichenberger

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An abandoned gas station and restaurant sit alongside Interstate 55 in Holmes County, Miss. There’s only one restaurant listed on the “Food” highway exit sign for Lexington, the county seat: Baskin-Robbins. Photo by Joel Reichenberger

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Brady Worster and her daughter Mariam hang out on the playground equipment at West Lincoln Park. Photo by John F. Russell

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Calvin Head helped organize a co-op among area farmers willing to grow fruits and vegetables on their ground. They then sell some of their harvest at the farmers market — formerly an abandoned gas station — near the town of Mileston, Miss. Head envisions a vegetable-processing plant for the area in the future, something that could provide jobs and healthy opportunities for residents. Photo by Joel Reichenberger

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Healthy food often is more expensive and difficult to access in Holmes County, Miss., than fried fare from the corner gas station.

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