Making Sustainable Food More Accessible to Less Fortunate Americans

As government funding for programs that make fresh fruits and vegetables available to low-income women and young children get cut, Sarah Parsons asks how to make the sustainable food movement less elitist.
April 6, 2012, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Parsons bemoans the reductions in government funding for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program, but sees a larger problem in the fundamental causes that make sustainable food inaccessible to many, of which "price tags are just a small piece of the very complex puzzle."

Among the causes Parsons identifies as obstacles to accessibility are unfair federal crop subsidies (which "mean that industrial-scale growers who make ingredients for cheap, commodity products are able to produce and sell their wares at lower prices") and geographic challenges ("Many farmers markets are sited in relatively affluent neighborhoods...More than 23 million Americans live in food deserts, regions where citizens must travel more than a mile to the nearest grocery store").

Parsons highlights some of the innovative projects seeking to overturn this state of affairs. One is Wholesome Wave, a nonprofit that "works to expand access to fresh fruits and vegetables by offering incentives for food stamp recipients to shop at farmers markets." Another is Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard Project, which has led the way in providing fresh fruits and veggies for students' meals and educating students about sustainable food production.

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Published on Tuesday, April 3, 2012 in Good
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