Most celebrity chefs do more than appear on TV and hawk cookbooks and frying pans. To name but a few on a very long list: Tom Colicchio uses his Top Chef fame to bring awareness to healthy school lunches; Marcus Samulesson works with global humanitarian relief organization UNICEF; MilkBar’s Christina Tosi helps create jobs for recent immigrants; and D.C.’s Jose Andres has a foundation to fight food insecurity. In other words, a lot of the chefs you’ve heard of are probably working to change the food system in some important way. Read more
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In the wake of the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, after the death of Michael Brown, the Baltimore uprising after the death of Freddie Gray, and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, much has been written about the nature of poverty and violence in American cities. But one aspect that is chronically underreported is the lack of access to healthy foods in many of those same communities. Indeed, the reliance on a highly processed food supply is causing disease, suffering, and eventual death, especially to those in the poorest of neighborhoods. Read more
Needless to say, I was far from gluten-free bread, kale chips, and other fad foods of Hollywood. There were few grocery stores nearby and, although we were only four blocks away from a Mexican market with great produce, I rarely saw a farmers’ market. Instead, there were lots of convenience stores filled with pre-packaged, processed foods, fast food restaurants, and small liquor stores with overpriced, overripe produce. Read more
“At 6 a.m., I gotta get my kids up, grab my things. Sometimes I grab a sandwich, sometimes I grab nothing.” This is the voice of a mother and resident of Far Rockaway, New York, as recorded by her 18-year-old son Joshua Miranda. He produced a radio segment about her efforts to eat and cook healthy food, in this under-resourced neighborhood on the outskirts of New York City. Read more
On long drives across the Navajo Nation, a remote and, unpaved territory spanning 27,000 square miles and three states, procuring healthy food is nearly impossible.
“Our communities are food deserts,” says Janene Yazzie, who recently moved from New York, back home to Lupton, Arizona. While she and her husband led health conscious lives on the East Coast, it has been impossible on the reservation. The closest Safeway is in Gallup, 22 miles away. So, like many of the 200,000 people who call the reservation home, the family must rely on local gas stations or a general store, where a frozen pizza might cost a couple of dollars, but a bag of apples runs upwards of $6.50. Read more
In 2012, the city of Richmond, California, garnered national attention when its residents voted down a ballot measure to impose a tax on sugary beverages. Groups like Dunk the Junk hoped the measure would significantly hamper the city’s growing obesity problem. Doria Robinson, executive director of Urban Tilth, saw the tax as an opportunity to invest in the health of her community. Read more
It’s a Sunday afternoon in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota and we’re sitting down to an outdoor supper. A breeze lifts up our paper plates and placemats and everyone dives at the table to hold them down. A man wandering past waves at someone a few seats over. “We haven’t met,” he says, “but I recognize you. How are you?” Read more
In recent years, a consensus has been taking shape among food justice advocates, as well as nutrition and public health experts. While access to fresh, healthy food is important to changing dietary trends, these groups tend to agree, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.
A new project in South Los Angeles has set out to prove that another piece of the puzzle—educating people how to cook whole foods—can work wonders. Read more
Despite its reputation as a Mecca of farmers markets and foodie culture, San Francisco is also home to quite a few people who lack access to good, whole food. In the low-income Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, for instance, residents have an 8- to 14-year decreased life expectancy compared to their neighbors in other parts of the city. This is due in large part to diet-related illnesses like diabetes, congestive heart failure, hypertension and other types of heart disease. In addition, nearly 42 percent of adults in San Francisco are overweight or obese, and only one-third of those adults eat three or more servings of fruit and vegetables each day. Read more
Michael Bloomberg’s controversial public health campaigns against Big Tobacco, Big Food, and Big Gulps gave late night comics a lot of fodder, but you can’t mock the metrics. The former New York City Mayor’s policies saved lives and money. And when New Yorkers try new solutions to old problems, every one else watches.
The city is a hotbed of innovative collaborations between government, philanthropy and the private sector. And when these public-private partnerships achieve their goals, the ripple effect is massive. Read more