When I think of food security, I think of countries in the developing world, where food and water scarcity go hand in hand. I think of places out in the middle of no where, where droughts have devastated crops and monoculture attitudes have meant disaster if that crop fails. I think of the big industrial agriculture system in its abstract, and the impact it’s having on the world.
What I don’t think of, is the food scarcity that happens right around the corner from me. I don’t think of the family of five that exists on take out food because the grocery store is two busses in the other direction. I don’t think of the single mother trying to pick up her son and get to the grocery store after getting off of work late, and still have enough time to make dinner. I don’t think of the people who have to choose between fresh, healthy food and making rent that month.
I don’t think that this can exist in the same country where we regularly top lists as the nation that throws away the most food, or is the most wasteful.
What is food security?
Food security is one of those buzzwords that gets thrown around by people with put really being defined. In short, food security is the ability of a country, or group of people, to feed themselves. Here in the US, people are food insecure, when they live in a food desert – a place where access to food is far away (multiple buses, a train, more than a few miles). Inner cities tend to be food deserts.
My feeling is that food deserts happened when the corner grocery store went out of business because of the big box superstore that opened on the corner.
How can this be changed?
Local, local, local. Eating local means not just eating food that was grown locally, but also buying it locally. Support the farmer’s market in your neighborhood. That small grocery around the block that buys from local farms? Support that! And most importantly, we need to support programs that seek to bring farmer’s markets and urban farms to places where grocery stores aren’t. The big superstores have given up on small neighborhoods – don’t let the local movement leave them out either.
Most importantly, we have to realize that food security in the United States is very much an intersectional issue – it’s not just about food, it’s not just about class, it’s not just about race. It’s about all of that tied together into a very complicated bundle. Supporting local movements’ growth into food deserts is helpful, but it won’t address all the issues. Find local groups working on this issue, and talk to them about what they are doing.
Have you noticed food deserts near you? What is your area doing about them?