Oasis in the Food Desert

While farmers’ markets are a popular trend across the nation, studies show that most of them serve our affluent citizens. Yes, eating local healthy fruits and vegetables is all the rage. Sad to say, studies show that urban neighborhoods classified as food deserts are less likely to have farmer’s markets.

Across the US, 803 counties have been classified as food deserts–areas where the average resident of the county lives 10 or more miles from a full-service grocery store (a grocery store that sells fresh
produce, meats and the kinds of foods needed to cook healthy, home-made meals).

Another study concluded that more than 23 million Americans living in low-income neighborhoods are
more than a mile from a full-service grocery store—a long ways to walk with bags of groceries (and
public transportation seldom makes it any easier). People who do not have access to fresh whole foods are stuck eating convenience store foods and fast foods that cause obesity, diabetes, asthma, heart disease and a host of other ailments.

Researchers have determined that Grand Rapids does indeed have food deserts, as classified above–our Southeast neighborhoods included. However, when the women of OKT polled these neighborhoods a couple years ago hey discovered something else. Many neighbors were growing food in their own gardens. OKT’s yard gardening program supports both new and existing food gardeners so even more people can grow and share food.

2012 will be the second year that the community women of Our Kitchen Table manage a farmers’
market—your farmers’ market–within “food desert” neighborhoods. Please come out and support your
farmers’ market. Making the market a success can mean better health for you and your neighbors.