A big topic in the real food community lately is “food deserts”. Being defined typically as urban areas that do not have grocery stores within a mile from homes (people not having automobiles), only having quick-marts, gas stations, and fast food in the area. The online dictionary says “urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or good-quality fresh food”.
I go back and forth on this topic, I understand that areas like this exist…..what I do not understand is why the people with automobiles aren’t helping those without get real groceries? Are people not asking for help? Why are people not using public transportation to get to a grocery store? Amazon also has a service called Amazon Fresh, which ironically isn’t available in my area, but seems as though folks can get fresh food delivered to their door-step. If someone can get to McDonald’s, I tend to think that with a little more effort they can get to a grocery store. Also, note that McDonald’s now offers salad, albeit probably not the best quality every, but better than the other stuff on the menu, ask for lemon juice and forgo their salad dressing.
Honestly, I do not fully understand this whole situation.
The three closest grocery stores to my home are within 1.8 – 2.9 miles of my house in three different directions. I also have a Jack’n the Box on the corner about 0.20 miles from my house. I’m pretty certain that I would walk myself down to one of the grocery stores that is further away, rather than go to eat fast food because it is closer to my house. I would certainly get all my steps in. Our current American culture, unless very deliberate about it, doesn’t move enough and walk enough during the day.
Alternatively, folks can grow food in containers in their house or window seal or on their porch, steps, or fire escape. Vertical gardening is a very good option for high-density cities where space is limited. I also have heard of people doing community gardens on roof tops and creating a CSA. People can learn how to grow food on the internet. That is what I have to do. One of my favorite webpages is called Bless My Weeds.
Why is this important?
This is important because eating fresh vegetables and fruit, ideally organic (good reason to grow your own), is critical to have, create, and maintain a healthy body. Conventionally grown vegetables are still better for you than fast food or packaged/processed food-like products. There are populations of people who do not obtain and eat fresh produce, at all. Many children cannot even identify and name various vegetables and fruits (you can see this on Jamie Oliver’s TV show called Food Revolution, much less know what they taste like. This is bad folks!
People are getting sicker and sicker. Children are getting sicker and sicker. The majority of disease states (what is called lifestyle diseases, like Type-2 Diabetes) that are plaguing our population can be either or both controlled and or reversed by changing the inputs going into the body.
While I do think that eating animal meat (ideally well sourced) is important, I think that eating lots of vegetables and fruit is important too. While the Keto Diet and the Carnivore Diet is taking the world by storm (right now), there is nothing like yummy fresh produce. The exception and the extreme diets, I find can work under specific circumstances, as a therapeutic diet for a period of time. I also consider Veganism as an extreme diet just like I do the Carnivore Diet. I tend to sit in the middle and advise a balanced diet with lots of veggies, fruit, meat, and whole food starchy carbohydrates and healthy fats for most people. The ratios of all the food groups can be adjusted to fit individual needs.
Shout out to my gurl Ursula for this topic. I may have gone off in a direction she didn’t anticipate and frankly neither did I, but…..to the topic at hand…..
Eating lots of veggies and fruit is so very important. They provide vital minerals, vitamins, fiber, and water that your body needs and craves (keep in mind there are also highly bioavailable minerals and vitamins in meats that your body needs as well). They also taste delicious when treated properly. Eating them raw, steamed, roasted, and grilled are all fantastic ways to eat them.
The bottom line is that you get out of your body what you put in it, so put in the good stuff. The fresh produce. Give your body foods that it can identify and know what to do with.
I am fairly certain that it isn’t a mystery that eating vegetables and fruit is healthy for the human body.
Resources & Reason to Eat More Veggies
Dr. Terry Wahls is one of my favorite examples of someone who took her healthy into her own hands. She went from being in a wheel chair to riding a bike in a year! Why!? Nutrition! Her case is unique and maybe a bit extreme, but her healing journey is a shining example of the healing power of healthy food. She eats a large amount of fresh vegetables every day.
Don’t Be Scared of Fruit
This seems like it should go without saying, but I’ll be a monkey if there are not people out there that are afraid of eating fruit! They think that fruit will make them fat! WHAT!?!!? NO. Just no!
You CAN Grow Your Own
I totally get that the idea of growing your own vegetables and fruit seems daunting. And it is quite possible that initially you may not yield much or at all. However, with not much money and not much space, you can learn in a short time and start supplementing your diet with homegrown produce or completely eat your own produce instead of buying it at the grocery store.
For urban areas, I like vertical gardening and container gardening; Google to your hearts content on how to do this. You can do both with scraps and imagination. You do not have to spend a ton of money. My grandparents use to grow food in old cut-up milk jugs and buckets. You can also grow food from scraps, in water, in jars, and glasses in your house. Again, Google away on this.
Check out the book All New Square Foot Gardening II: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space
If you have a little more space, like me….I have a small backyard. I can probably fit a 4-foot wide by 6-foot long raised garden bed in my backyard. My parents have a raised bed made from large Here are a couple of more articles that can be helpful, one and two. Which is my intention.
I’ve been growing bell pepper plants in pots and 4 herbs in the corner of my flowerbed.
Here is a picture of my first container garden of herbs.
If you have more land, which most don’t, but I love Diana Rodger’s book The Homegrown Paleo Cookbook: Over 100 Delicious, Gluten-Free, Farm-to-Table Recipes, and a Complete Guide to Growing Your Own Healthy Food.
Here is another book you may enjoy, Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on ¼ acre.
You can buy seed online and have them delivered to your house. I think it is worth the money to purchase heirloom seeds and plants. At the end of the day, do what you can do. I find that planting plants vs seeds are more gratifying in the short-term. Talk with the local nursery, Lowes, or Home Depot plant / garden manager is tremendously educational and they can steer you in the right direction by how you are growing and what you are growing. Once you get food producing you can harvest in such a way, that it keeps growing back or use the scraps to regrow, per the above.
Not Food Yet….
I’m also attempting to grow Meyer Lemon Trees. I totally don’t know what I’m doing. But they started growing and now I can’t give-up on them.
- How-to: Grow a Meyer Lemon Tree (Part 1)
- How-to: Grow a Meyer Lemon Tree (Part 2)
I haven’t written part three yet, because there is nothing significant yet to say….
They are now 1 year and 4 months old. Here is my picture progression.
I hope the information I provided in this post is useful and encouraging. I hope that it opens your eyes to what you can do for yourself, your family, and for others that are less fortunate than you.