Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Food Justice

Our access to food in the U.S. in not fair or equal.


One Story...

"We live in the country so the closest store from our cabin is a ten minute drive. It's a convenience store/beer seller (no gas pumps) located in the village at the crossroads of two state routes. The store and the restaurant just across the street are the only business in town now.

So, first off there are convenience items for your car, like engine oil and window cleaner and a peg board full of tidbits...air fresheners, replacement fuses, stick-on fish eye mirrors for your side view. And then there's batteries, small 2-packs of aspirin, and a few Bic pens in packages that hang from another peg board.

The store is mostly coolers on three sides. Cases of cheap beer, liters of sodas, caffeine drinks, vitamin waters, and there's a small section on the end that usually has a couple of styrofoam cartons of white eggs, a couple of pound packages of bacon, maybe one pound of margarine that you could probably buy by the stick if you wanted to, sometimes some bake and serve cinnamon rolls in tube and usually plastic gallons of milk and small cartons of half and half...ultra-pasteurized of course.
There is a bread isle...long very soft squarish loaves of white bread, there are also some soft hot dog and hamburger buns in 8 packs. Further down the bread shelves it turns into an open display of miscellanea..ketchup, mustard, mayo, macaroni and cheese, hamburger helper, instant mashed potatoes, cat and dog food, cat litter and dog bones, and down on the very end, the diapers, sanitary napkins, tin foil and dish soap.
There is a kind of deli section, they have a case with some meat and cheese. You can, of course buy baloney, sliced turkey breast and ham, chopped ham, and sometimes salami. They usually have colby cheese, swiss cheese and jack. Sometimes there will be a plastic tub of potato salad or macaroni salad that you can buy by the pound. Also something called pimento cheese, which is a kind of cheese spread.
You can get any candy bar you want. Also chips, pretzels, nuts and all those kinds of snacks.
And the newspaper. You can get the paper, cigarettes, lighters and lottery tickets up front by the cashier."

Just like health care in America, our food system caters to the wealthy. Something as simple as having a choice of foods depends on where you live. Access to fresh food, organic, bulk or local foods or even the expectation of reasonably priced foods are all dependent, in America, on where you live and how much money you can afford to pay for transportation.

I just read an article by Beth Huxta in Organic Gardening magazine, Aug/Oct 2009, about Will Allen, a former professional basketball player who has helped to rejuvenate an urban Milwaukee neighborhood through establishing an organization called Growing Power. They direct their efforts toward making fresh, locally grown food available to the neighborhood and also teach city kids about the concept of urban farming. That was sixteen years ago. The model has been successfully recreated in Chicago as well, making the project an important success story in the development of community centered urban agriculture.
Before the project started, the neighborhood was described as a food desert, a five-mile radius with nothing but fast food chains and convenience stores that sell nutritionally inferior food.
All that changed. The information is interesting and inspiring.

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