There is optimistic, grassroot news in the face of a lack of cooperation by federal bipartisan politics, which will further widen the gap between the wealthy and those in need of food assistance and access to basic healthy food by residents in urban areas.
First the bad news: A study released this year announced that adhering to Food Pyramid guidelines for whole grains, fruits and vegetables would add hundreds to one person’s grocery bill each year. ”But the study found introducing more potassium in a diet is likely to add $380 per year to the average consumer’s food costs.” And that’s just for the one mineral alone.
In the Healthy Corner Store Initiative by The Food Trust, they report the following:
In communities that lack supermarkets, families depend on corner stores for food purchases. The choices at these stores are often limited to packaged food and very little, if any, fresh produce…A study published in Pediatrics found that the average Philadelphia student purchases more than 350 calories on each visit to the corner store — and 29 percent of them shop at corner stores twice a day, five days a week, consuming almost a pound worth of additional calories each week.
So now here’s good news: the phenomenon of Urban Food Maps. One of the most user-friendly is based Sydney, Australia. On it one can search for a favorite kind of fruit in one’s area, map it, and get an update on the harvest or health of the tree. Anyone can find these, harvest them and feed their families. Urban Edibles in Portland, Oregon is another site that encourages the online community to map wild herbs, fruit trees, vines, etc on public land or private landowners post offers to have people come and harvest from their property. Bountiful Baskets is a food co-op that operates in multiple states delivering fresh vegetables and breads weekly across multiple states for under $20 completely run by volunteers.
Public officials, landscape architects, and community advocates have long debated the idea of the accessibility and upkeep of planting fruit trees and berry bushes, etc. on public property. Policy is usually behind community activism and its the grassroots demand that will pull it the right way. Look up your community, add information from your neighborhood, and be sure to share the resources with a friend. Hopefully reading the objectives of these groups may inspire you to support your local Food Bank or organize a Gleaners organization in your area. There can be humane and nurturing components in every environment designed.