Every year at this time, I try to think of things to write about that are a little different from the plethora of lawsuits that seem to arise like mushrooms whenever anyone makes a claim about food.
This year, I’ve actually been fortunate to learn about a number of things that are simple reminders that ultimately the goal of the food industry is to feed the world, and that this can be a good thing.
The first are two stories about food gardens in what were previously food deserts in my hometown of Detroit. This garden which is trying to raise funds to complete a project to build a community kitchen to go with a successfull community garden in the Brightmoor section of the city; and this garden (full disclosure: members of my family are affiliated with it) that is part of this network that seeks to have the majority of the produce consumed in Detroit grown within the city limits.
In today’s Baltimore Sun, there is a story about plans to build a food production campus in an area of East Baltimore, to provide a chance for entrepreneurs to incubate food production businesses, including growing the food they use, in a part of Baltimore that will be visible to train passengers who currently see nothing but abandoned buildings.
And my own kids participated in a SNAP challenge to see how life is like for those who live off what are usually called food stamps. Their verdict: it’s a lot easier if you eat vegetarian and don’t have to deal with kids and their often finicky diets, and the number of times to have to tell yourself simply that no, you just can’t do that, even if it makes perfect sense like buying an inexpensive and fresh rotisserie chicken because it’s “prepared food” and not on SNAP, is legion. It helps that they live in a region of upstate New York that is a food oasis rather than a desert. It also helped that they both can cook (and have a fully-equipped kitchen to cook in) and that one of them had the time and they had the car and the gas to shop at all the right stores to stretch their dollars far. So a lot of what they learned was about how fortunate they were that this challenge was not all that realistic when applied to them, compared to someone who might live far from a grocery that has any kind of fresh, let alone inexpensive, produce, has no or minimal cooking facilities, finicky and demanding children and no access to transportation. When you add in all the other challenges a real SNAP participant would likely face, they were extremely thankful they were doing this for a limited period of time and extremely mindful of how hard it is for many.
I hope you all had a fine and bountiful Thanksgiving.