“areas where residents’ access to affordable, healthy food options (especially fresh fruits and vegetables) is restricted or nonexistent due to the absence of grocery stores within convenient travelling distance.”Food Empowerment Project Food Desert page
Note: more images about this are on my Instagram post
I didn’t truly understand and recognize food apartheid (aka food desert) until I was in my mid-20s. I was working in corporate and paying a mortgage (in Rochester, NY) so was more mindful of my money. I noticed how the nicer neighborhoods had a fresher selection of fruits and vegetables and carried more vegetarian-friendly foods. I was okay in traveling to those stores because I had a car, and I was okay with paying a little extra to support my eating preferences. (it was only me those days)
Fast-track to now living in Bronx. Although my neighborhood has various vegetable/fruit stands and markets, I typically make the trek to Manhattan to attend one of the farmer’s markets there. A couple reasons why I do this – most farmer’s markets in Bronx run from mid-June to early November and we eat quite a bit fruits/vegetables so I desire variety. If I don’t go to Manhattan, I take about a 40+ minute bus ride to another part of the Bronx to a store that carries a vast amount of fruits and veggies. Let me emphasize that I recognize my privilege to make these trips and ability to pay for the variety in my food selection. It is also something I’m willing to do for my children.
Food apartheid definitely exists in New York City and especially in various parts of each borough. This discrepancy in food quality and costs is a part of our nation’s systemic racism within food systems. It is one thing if you choose to live in a location that doesn’t have immediate healthy food access nor grocer. But that isn’t what is occurring in food apartheid areas. The residents aren’t given the choice.
One solution to this food injustice is providing more spaces for community gardens, which in New York City is a touchy subject. (I continually walk by empty lots just wasting away, but there is so much politics on getting that land.) Which is why I’m very grateful to be part of a community garden with the mission of providing nutrition rich fruits and vegetables to the community!
What do you think are other solutions?