Lisa Feldstein's blog

Lisa Feldstein seeks to use land use as a tool for social and economic justice.

Too bountiful a crop of farmers' markets?

The number of farmers’ markets has grown dramatically in the US over the past few years. The number increased by seven percent from 2005-2006 on top of the incredible 79 percent increase from 1994 to 2002. People love the festive atmosphere, the ability to meet the people who grow their food and the connection to the earth this experience provides, and the quality and freshness of the produce. Many patrons value local farmers’ markets as a means of lessening their impact on the earth by allowing them to eat more locally.

Yet in some places, farmers are abandoning the markets. They cite a number of reasons, including:

Equitable Utopias - Thoughts on Walking Away from Omelas

In the short story The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, Ursula LeGuin depicts a utopia that is made possible by the transference of all misery to a child who is kept in a cellar. Some in the community ignore the scapegoat’s existence, choosing the easy life of bliss that is offered to them. Those whose consciences do not allow them to live in willful ignorance often chose to leave Omelas and live complete, full lives that include awareness, and shouldering their own pain.

Healthy Communities? Check!

The built environment is a significant contributor to community health – a fact that researchers, planners, public health practitioners, and advocates around the country are becoming increasingly aware of. We know, for example, that people who live in more “walkable” communities are in fact more likely to walk. Research has demonstrated that living near a grocery store increases consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Children who live near freeways may suffer from respiratory problems for the rest of their lives. These facts should be particularly important in shaping land use decisions as we face rising costs from the obesity epidemic and other chronic diseases.

This leaves public health advocates wondering just how best to dig into the world of planning.

Why should planners care about the Farm Bill?

Every five to seven years, Congress votes to reauthorize one of the largest and most significant legislative measures affecting land use policies in the U.S - the Farm Bill. This year, Congress will debate the omnibus legislation that defines not only America’s agricultural policy, but determines funding priorities for rural development, food and nutrition assistance, energy and environmental issues.

Diminutive Offerings from a Grocery Store Giant: Will They Fill the Grocery Store Gap?

The impact of the urban grocery store gap, particularly on low-income communities, has been well documented. The presence of full-service grocery store can raise the economic value of surrounding property, serve as an anchor in commercial districts, provide an important source of jobs, and lower the daily cost of living for residents. In an era of skyrocketing obesity rates, public health research shows a strong correlation between the presence of a grocery store and the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

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