Started during times of rationing for the world wars, victory gardens rose up as a way of making produce locally available in communities. Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, squash, onions, and just about any other herbs that can easily be grown was. And what a beautiful thing it was!
In todays food-driven society it is crazy how prevalent food scarcity is. According to World Hunger Education Services 12.7% of people in the US face food insecurity, and we are slowly trying to get to pre-2007 levels of 11%. WH Education Services (2015) Food deserts have risen in low-income neighborhoods of urban cities, where accessibility to fresh produce and accessibility to a car is low. Food deserts take a large toll on the local community’s health, not only are the people living in these areas showing higher rates of obesity and diabetes. American College of Cardiology (2011)
Amongst other things, LIMITED ACCESS TO HEALTHY FOODS and lack of access to care are some of the main reasons for these low health outcomes, but looking at the greater spectrum I believe these “food deserts” help drive up the cost of health-care due to increase in hospital visits in populations prone to chronic diseases, and increased length of hospital and increased difficulty of treatment if it is started too late.
The craziest thing to me though is how close they can be to home. In the interactive map provided by the US Department of Agriculture (2015) you can find food deserts in your area. Masashi et al (2017) talk about the benefits of gardening and how they are globally seen in communities and cultures through the world and I want people to be aware of the hunger issue in our country. To see how close it is to home, and to understand that we need to come together as a society to address food insecurity.
So what can you do?
I’d love for you to start your own project. A garden or sunny balcony and pick a few plants and try it out. Growing your vegetables can be a wonderful learning experience for your children, and they can learn to love to eat the veggies they grew. You can also try reaching out to the community and see if THEY want to build a garden. Inspired by my previous blog article on Vitamin D Juan Camilo Rivera (2017) and its effects of Calcium absorption I went to an elderly home in Orlando for just that! And 2 days later they called me interested in having this garden made for them!
I am so excited to help my local community, and improving public health for the elderly population of Orlando and would LOVE to be able to expand this to other elderly communities. Making fresh produce available to them, and reducing the size of the food deserts afflicting our community.