Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What the heck is National Food Desert Awareness Month about?

There are no grocery stores in the food desert. When you're driving or walking past fast-food walk-up after fast-food drive-in hawking greasy burgers, chicken, fries and high fructose corn syrup (hfcs) colas, and there's not a grocery store or produce bin in sight, you know you're in a food desert. People who live in food deserts tend to die younger, and they die of diet-related illnesses such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease, according to researcher Mari Gallagher.

In Brother, can you spare an apple?, Gallagher says "If an apple is further away than a burger, then the chances of choosing fresh food more often than fast food is a mirage,"

Image courtesy; Photographer: Ian Britton

So in the interest of getting more healthy produce, particularly organically grown produce, into the hands and mouths of people at high risk for developing diet-related diseases, Gallagher, Growing Home, Inc., Goodness Greeness and the National Center for Public Research kicked off National Food Desert Awareness Month in Chicago earlier this month.

Why the Chicago launchpad? Because half a million people on Chicago's south side live in a food desert, and they're hungry for things that crunch.

Perhaps in all the rhetoric about cutting our taxes, bailing out Wall Street, and keeping America secure during this election season, the candidates should add "and a grocery store in every neighborhood." Or, dreaming wildly here, "and a pesticide-free garden in every neighborhood!"

Wouldn't that be Ordinary?

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