Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 207- Food deserts, urban farming and earth day

It's earth day monday again! I know, I missed the last two mondays. Not because I forgot about earth day, but because I didn't realize it was monday until thursday or friday. My produce box delivery had to be shut off for last month cause I was poor, so I didn't have that weekly reminder. (Those of you who know me in person will not be at all surprised by this, since I almost never know what day it is.)

Also, please indulge my shameless promotion of a friend's blog, and some local organizations that rock, none of this promotion was solicited. For that matter, any of the links I post, or organizations I encourage readers to donate to, ever sponsor my blog or ask me to link to them. They have no idea that I exist. I just think they're awesome.

Dear Mr. President,

As a part of the Let's Move! campaign, the First Lady has done a commendable job of raising awareness for a number of issues, especially the problems of "food deserts." The distance many have to travel to access fresh, nutritious food has a hugely negative health and environmental impact. Here in Seattle, there are a number of organizations doing really inspiring work to combat this impact.

Every Monday I get a delivery of organic produce from a local company called New Roots Organics. I don't own a car, so getting so many fresh fruits and vegetables delivered is especially convenient. There are a number of local farms that are out of reach for those of us confined to the city, and this service helps farmer and consumer alike. I think the convenience of this service would also appeal to working families, many of whom don't have time or transportation to shop for fresh, local and organic produce. I think that government programs like food stamps should include free or subsidized access to this kind of service, which would help local farmers and help the poorest families have better access to more nutritious food. Companies like New Roots, that provide delivery to food deserts could be more widespread and more affordable if some form of tax incentive were offered.

Urban farming is another important solution. In Seattle we have several urban farm organizations like Alleycat Acres working to increase Seattle's access to fresh produce and appreciation for green spaces in the city. Our city council has lately been discussing changes to the city codes which affect urban agriculture. I have friends who volunteer for alleycat acres, and the work they do is truly inspiring. A federal Race-To-The-Top-style initiative to encourage cities to develop codes and zoning laws that increase and incentivize urban farms and access to them would be a step toward healthier and greener cities. Like Race To The Top, such an initiative could take local innovation and help adapt these solutions to other cities with similar problems.

Regardless of where we live, or what our economic situation is, every one ought to have access to healthy foods; it doesn't take a scientific study to tell us that this will make for a healthier planet and healthier individuals, but, if it did, there are several. I applaud the First Lady's efforts with Let's Move! and I hope that the awareness she's raising will continue to change the way our country thinks about what we eat and where it comes from.

Respectfully yours,


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