Thursday, October 22

Food Deserts; City Gardens; Wal-Mart; Chicago

The concept of "food deserts" has been taking root recently, with Chicago being a recent site for close study on the lack of accessible supermarkets and healthy food resources in poor and minority communities in urban areas. The most comprehensive report on food deserts in Chicago can be downloaded here.

More broadly, we see the USDA on the federal level is also taking notice of this issue.

Projects are trying to address food deserts on various levels, one of them being vegetable gardening with raised beds in abandoned lots in Washington Park. Public participatory engagement, reduction of food miles, and nutrition all issues that come up in this video segment:

For more interviews on this topic, go here.

Though community gardens are a wonderful way to address this issue in part, many point out it may never be enough in terms of general access to more nutritious low cost food, or to certain kinds of jobs. To this, many argue allowing "big box" stores like Wal-Wart into the Chicago market, and especially the South Side, would address economic issues as well as that of its food deserts. Indeed, Wal-Mart & it supporters are very well-organized in their campaign. But issues of workers' rights and living wages are the other side of the story. This NPR piece gives a short synopisis; and this one is the follow-up.

What is the right balance between urban living, social justice, nurtition, and the issues of food systems in the context of chain distributors like Wal-Mart?


Related: work on photodocumenting the lives of rural black farmers in the US

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