Monday, January 6, 2014

A Food Swamp

In our previous discussion on food access we discussed food deserts defined as an urban neighborhoods were residents don't have access to healthy, fresh and affordable food alternatives within a mile of where they live.

In this post we are going to describe a food swamp as an urban neighborhood where residents primary access is to fast food or convenience stores. Where cheap soda pop, hamburgers, hot dogs, and potato chips are the main fare. True, some of the Rochester convenience stores are making a real effort to have fruit and vegetable staples available inexpensively, and we applaud this trend. However, this does not take the place of a full service grocery.

It is possible that a food desert and food swamp could be coincident (ie. they could co-exist in the same space).

Unfortunately, the overlap of food deserts and swamps, is often in the low income areas of town.

So how do we bring healthy, fresh and affordable food to the swamp. Well turns out we can kill two undesirable food ecosystems with one stone. If we irrigate the desert we neutralize the swamp.

We can do that with good urban planning, which includes incentives for farmers markets and grocery stores to locate in strategic areas. These businesses become an oasis in the desert and help drain the swamp. Farmers should know the important role they play in providing excellent options for fresh low cost vegetables, fruits and meats in urban areas. A strategically placed farmers market or supermarket can play a significant role in urban renewal and strengthening the fabric of disadvantaged neighborhoods.

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