One of the biggest issues plaguing American cities is creation of food deserts. There are a significant amount of areas where residents don’t have easy access to supermarkets that provide healthy food. This lack of healthy food can lead to detrimental health effects as well as a lower life expectancy in certain urban areas. The USDA defines a convenient travel distance to a supermarket as a mile or less. This issue is very prevalent in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has continued to resolve this problem. The areas that deal with these areas the most are the West and South sides. One of the most recent attempts was building a Whole Foods Market in the neighborhood of Englewood. However, in the end, this new market was not as helpful because there was already an Aldi supermarket a few blocks away.
Several cities around America have tried other solutions such as community gardens or food banks. The American Community Garden association provides resources for over 18,000 community gardens in the United States.
One solution that I think wold provide a great amount of fresh foods for residents in troubled neighborhoods is farmers markets. In areas around Chicago, there are a large number of farms that are struggling to sell their products locally in the increasingly globalized market that we live in. By transporting their goods to the city, they will be able to not only benefit themselves but benefit these inner city residents.
Neighborhoods on both the West and South sides could coordinate with farmers throughout the state of Illinois to have their produce sold. These residents would have access to healthier food options and local production would be stimulated. In the end, it would be a win-win. I also don’t think that the budget for this project would be very costly. Although there are already some farmers markets located throughout Chicago, I think that there needs to be more of these in order to help solve the crisis of food deserts.
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Image from the Chicago Farmers Market in Logan Square.