An Oasis in Motown’s ‘Food Desert’
By Matt L. Barron
For most of us with working vehicles, a weekly trip to a favorite roadside stand for some fresh-picked sweet corn and vine-ripened tomatoes is part of the summer routine. But what if you live in one of America’s big cities, far from a local farm? Even the best public transportation systems don’t have routes into farm country. If you crave a fresh salad, shopping for the fixins at the corner liquor or convenience store is sure to be a letdown.
Neighborhoods like Roxbury in Boston and Harlem in New York lack the supermarkets found in suburban malls which limits access to fresh produce. In Detroit, all the Farmer Jack stores are closed and there are no Wal-Marts or Costcos. Motown is now listed as the nation’s largest ‘food desert’.
So what to do? Bring the produce to the people. Mobile farmers’ markets are all the rage as urban agriculture practitioners, public health experts and church groups find a way to combat food insecurity.
This summer, in the Big Apple, 200 Green Carts have been deployed across the five boroughs to bring Empire State bounty to the masses. In Massachusetts, The Food Project has been using mobile farmers’ markets staffed by teens to transport the crops they grow on conservation land west of Boston to the inner city. Detroit has Peaches & Greens.
What is not to like? Urbanites get to eat fresh and healthy stuff. Kids learn stewardship skills. A win-win.