Butter, prunes, and eggs. That’s what Mabel McFiggin, an unemployed factory worker and the first woman* to use food stamps, bought to feed her family 77 years ago. Today, some 46 million people rely on food stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to help put food on the table. Read more
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Every fall, farmers in Washington throw away a sizable portion of the apples they grow. In 2015, thanks to the West Coast port slowdown and a lack of refrigeration, farmers in the state dumped an estimated $100 million worth of the fruit (or 143,000 bushels) in fields where they were left to rot, causing the nearby town to smell like rancid fruit for days. Read more
These days, Beatrice Evans finds herself talking to her neighbors on the bus more than usual while she’s commuting to her part-time job at a telemarketing firm. She doesn’t just make conversation with other passengers; Evans has an agenda. She thinks her fellow commuters should know about a city program that essentially gives low-income folks like her free produce at farmers’ markets.
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
Elaine Brown is no stranger to radical ideas. The 72-year-old former chairwoman of the Black Panther Party has long advocated on behalf of prisoners. Now she is determined to transform a once-blighted vacant lot in West Oakland, California into a thriving urban farm business that employs former offenders. And the produce they cultivate is destined for a fine dining restaurant in a city fast gaining a reputation as an eating destination. Read more
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