Do you live in a food desert? Until last week I did not realize how close I live to a food desert. What is a food desert? That depends on where you live, rural and urban; according to the USDA . Organizations may have their own definitions, but I will use the USDA definition in this post. You live in a food desert if one mile (urban) or ten miles (rural) from a supermarket or large grocery store.
I was looking for information about the new Hardiness Zone map and food the USDA “Food Desert Locator”. The USDA reports there are “6,529 food-desert census tracts in the continental U.S.” and approximately 75% of the food-desert tracts are in Urban areas and the remaining 25% are rural. To put the statics in terms of people, 13.6 million people live in a food desert and 82.2 % live in urban areas.
What do these number mean? First, the USDA website has clarifications and definitions for those who require precision and accuracy. I am more concerned about the general impacts and what it means for you and I. The desert that is less than a mile from me has about 3,400 people in it. What can be done to help the people who have difficulty getting to grocery store or supermarket. I know in my area there is a large convince store that has a good stock of fruit, vegetables and groceries but it does have limitations.
People in my area have to opportunity to grow their own food. Clearly we need to help people grow more of their own food. If you live in an urban area I think education is important. Teaching people what they can grow at home, even in small areas. Teaching about growing in urban plots. Local initiatives to make gardening space accessible will help.
What is hidden in these numbers are the farmers’ markets and farm stands. The USDA does not count these small markets and grocery stores. As with anything context always needs to come to numbers. However, there are millions of people who live in these deserts and that can not be denied either. Do you live in a food desert? How can you help those in a food desert? Please learn more about this topic, you can start at the USDA food desert website click here.
Last week I wrote growing sprouts and micro-greens. They have been doing really well, and they are ready for eating.
Could sprouts be used to help bring fresh fruit to people located in food deserts? Maybe, regardless they taste delicious.
Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.