Living on a Farm With Nothing To Eat
I grew up in one of these. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Shannon county South Dakota. At the time it was the poorest county in the country. Sometime in the mid-nineties, after I’d moved away, President Clinton came to visit and call it a state of emergency. I didn’t know it at the time, but we didn’t have access to healthy foods. Though I miss the people to this day, I’m glad I made it to somewhere with real food.
The diet there was high in fats and sugars and low in healthy fresh foods. Food was given to us by the government. It was the most pathetic excuse for food I can remember ever eating. Powdered eggs in white government packages with black writing. Large blocks of something akin to cheese. Huge #10 cans of pork and fat.
We fed most of it to our dogs. Poor dogs.
What is a Food Desert
The term food deserts are typically attached to urban environments in socioeconomically starved areas. Think inner city. Low income means no spending cash means no grocery stores. What business is going to go up where the population has no money to spend? Plus, this is the largest population to be affected by food deserts, so it’s pretty reasonable that we concentrate our attention there. But rural America, with a fraction of the population, still has food access issues.
The USDA defines a food desert as parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.
So this ends up happening at both ends of the population spectrum, though far less in the middle by the design of suburbs.
The fact is, food deserts affect us all but it can be much tougher for rural food deserts to be changed into a food oasis. Efforts to increase access to healthy fresh foods in rural areas may be met with more economic resistance than urban areas. But like urban counterparts, alleviating food deserts requires community action and involvement.
The first step in creating a food oasis is to understand the issues blocking forward progress, what food deserts are, and how they affect you. The juxtaposition of a food desert in the areas of the country that produce much of our food is ridiculous and paradoxical. The way out of these food deserts is going to depend largely on you and your community.
Start by reading a little more on food deserts with the links below, do a Google search, and then maybe contact a food rescue as close to you as possible and ask for some advice. They may know a few avenues to pursue to get you moving in the right direction. Ultimately, the goal of having healthy and fresh foods available in your area is going to require a combination of things:
- Increased produce production.
- Setting up a farmer’s market.
- Creating a community awareness campaign.
- Encouraging community leadership to enact policy that encourages economic growth (to encourage more grocery store availability)
- Speaking with local grocers about produce availability
- And the list can go on.
The rest is up to you. Read on.