Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Food Deserts

What is a food desert? It's an area where people can't buy decent food. Neighborhoods of color. Areas where poor people live. Indian reservations. Etc.

To give you a concrete example, when I lived in Atlanta during the summer of 1999, I was probably the only white person within 15 square blocks (literally). The neighborhood Kroger was atrocious. 2 miles away was a gay neighborhood. The food there was outstanding. We see this over and over again. Here in Georgetown, the old downtown area has a high Mexican population. Other than good Mexican products, the store is bad, especially the produce. Out in strip mall city to the northwest of downtown, the grocery is much better.

This is an environmental justice issue and serves to remind us of one of the major problems of the environmental movement--that it is based on providing consumer goods to rich people that poor people can't afford. In this case, it's organic food. Or even just fresh food. The stores themselves certainly deserve a great deal of scorn, as they often refuse to build or improve stores in economically disadvantaged neighbors. Albuquerque has tried for years to get a store to move downtown, but Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and any number of other stores consistently build in the northeast heights, 20 miles from downtown. Not only can poor people not get out there, but literally everybody has to drive to these stores. Sustainability indeed.

Via Miriam.