She hosts monthly community dinners in “food deserts” bringing farm
fresh food and cooking with kids in the neighborhood.
by Sherrell Dorsey of OrganicBeautyVixen
Do any of you know exactly what a food desert is? According to MarketMakeovers.org
deserts are all over the US, in urban and rural areas, sometimes in
places that ironically used to grow food, and usually in low-income
communities. Sure there’s stuff to eat, but it’s probably not food you
should be eating regularly (plenty of calories, few nutrients). Fast
food signs dot the landscape, but you can drive for miles without seeing
a healthy place to eat. There are few supermarkets and a lot of land in
between them. Residents buy food and drinks from local markets selling
unhealthy stuff with an unnaturally long shelf life. Junk food ads
surround you. As a result, folks are overfed but undernourished, prone
to overweight, obesity, diabetes and chronic illnesses.”
From Skyway to Newark, Harlem to the Bronx I’ve lived in plenty of
food deserts to know that it’s not always easy to find healthy options. I
remember long rides on the train journeying to Newark, New Jersey after
a trip to Union Square’s Trader Joe’s. It was a hassle but the food was
cheap, organic and healthy. The options in my neighborhood at the time?
C-Town (please burn down, please), Rite Aid and a Pathmark that was at
least 5 miles away.
Fortunately, I lived with lots of health conscious and proactive
neighbors who worked at the urban farm across the street and discovered a
great way to support their local growers and community via the use of a
co-op. The way it worked was we paid $26 per week and received a big
box of fruits and veggies. It was always a surprise as to what we would
receive (typically anything in-season) and whatever we didn’t want we
just traded each other for.
Are you dying to get on a green and organic diet lifestyle but don’t
have a lot of resources in your neighborhood to support your mission?
Here are a few resources that can literally be delivered to your door,
or public neighborhood location for inexpensive produce you’ll feel good
Local Harvest – I’m all about delivery. That means
it saves me a trip to the store or eliminates an errand I have to run.
Local Harvest brings the products of family farmers home to you with
over 11,000 products. Check them out at www.localharvest.org to purchase groceries online, find a co-op and restaurants.
Cooperative Grocer – So you might have to do a
little digging and find a co-op as close to home as possible. Co-ops are
awesome grocery store alternatives, are supported by the community,
build jobs and promote sustainability. Search for a co-op in your area or work in your community to bring one into your neighborhood.
Full Circle – A friend on twitter turned me on to this awesome service.
It’s currently only available in the North West. You can customize your
produce, select the size of your box dependent upon the size of your
family and pay weekly ($22 – $45) or in advance (with a 5% discount).
Best of all the food comes from local farmers which is great on the
environment and great for sustaining the local economy.
Growing Your Own – Another popular new trend in this
green and organic food system has been the advent of home gardens. You
can literally grow your own food. Now I’m not going to lie and say that
I’m the one to get down and dirty with some lettuce but if I had a more
stable lifestyle, I’d surely give it a shot. If you’re interested in
growing your own produce check out how to start your own garden. Even if
you’re in a small space or an apartment you can also get in on the
healthy action. Click here for more.
Food Desert Locator
neighborhood? What have you done to go organic or make changes in your
Dorsey is an eco-glamour expert, writer, speaker, social entrepreneur
and creator of the blog OrganicBeautyVixen.com – “A Brown Girl’s
Guide to Eco-Glam Living”. Sherrell believes that going green with
your beauty routine doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your fierce and
fabulous style. Connect with her on twitter and facebook for all things beauty, green, eco-friendly, organic, sustainable and of course… Eco-glam.
I live in an urban area so i would take the train to get my organic food. *shrugs* Its worth it though.
Thank you for this, there are many super markets in my area but none of them really offer organic options at all so I usually have to run to costco or jewels for some.
great article! thanks for sharing :-))
I have been on both sides of this situation- lived in both types of neighborhoods . This is not going to be popular, but I will state it anyway. . .
In the U.S., we are blessed with so much food, that many poor individuals are overweight. This is not the case in most areas of the world which suffer from areas of extreme poverty.
Granted, regardless of the weight, the nutritional status among the poor in this country is bad. We tend to make poor eating choices in SOME cases, because of an addiction to quick, easy food that tastes good to our mouths and looks good to our eyes. Many of these foods have addictive elements- which further feeds the problem. The healthier options (although limited in comparison to areas outside of food deserts) are no match for fast foods. Even if those options may not the BEST nutritional products available in the world, they offer more nutrition than the most popular fast food options. . . and they ARE cheaper.
For instance, most of the stores in the poorest neighborhoods DO sell dry oatmeal, beans (canned and dry), rice (dry bag) and frozen fruits and veggies. It is cheaper and more nutritious to prepare something from these items to feed a family of four for a week than it would be to feed that family fast food for one week. Many people use the argument that NO nutritional food is available and that if it is, it is MORE expensive than fast food. SImply not true.
IMHO, this is an excuse to continue an irresponsible lifestyle CHOICE. I know, because I was forced to make the same choices at one point. Guess what? I chose beans, oatmeal and frozen fruits/veggies.It makes more sense to at least choose the healthiest option available while the struggle continues to totally optimize the food situation in these areas.
With the state of healthcare in this country, it behooves everyone to become more responsible for their health.
Just my opinion.
Great roundup! I'm grateful to be in an incredibly agro-accessible area but am always interested in how others are faring.
Thanks Dana! I really appreciate it. The more we are able to identify resources and solutions for people, the more choices we have in living a truly healthier life and changing the name of the game in our communities. When we find access we have to share it.
I appreciate all of you for reading, commenting and pushing to make big changes!
This is motivating me to get back to my goal of buying local! Thanks!!
Very informative! I'm fortunate and have lots of places to buy organic from Whole Foods, Trader Joe's to local farmers market. I work in an urban area where there are very few options for healthy shopping. Education is the key; sharing this information is paramount!
Thanks for sharing and I will definitley keep this article movin'!
My neighborhood has great access to organic foods and the vegetable and fruit box trucks will often stop by and ask for our orders…what I am finding for some of my friends who live in neighborhoods with less access, is that they refuse service in those areas! Their websites specifically state to check zip codes…and won't deliver there….very disapointing…..