Conversations about sustainability and the merits of various heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables make up a lot of food talk, especially in Seattle. So it's easy to forget that many urban dwellers struggle with simply finding fresh produce. These areas -- typically low-income neighborhoods -- have been dubbed "food deserts" because of their limited access to affordable and nutritious food. In food deserts, it's nearly impossible to find a fresh (never mind organic) peach or a potato that hasn't seen the inside of a deep fryer. Most residents in deserts lack either the means of transportation or the money to shop at grocery stores offering organic produce, so they hit the corner market or nearest fast food joint. Unsurprisingly, food deserts tend to have high rates of obesity and diabetes. But now it looks like seems America's latest culinary fad, street food, is stepping in to help alleviate the problem.
In June, the New York Times ran an article about the launch of New York City's Green Carts, which placed one thousand new carts selling produce around the five boroughs. The carts only sell raw fruits and vegetables in impoverished neighborhoods. Then last week came news about the launch of Peaches & Greens, a truck that works its way through the streets of Detroit, which has one of the country's highest obesity rates. The truck plays R&B over a loudspeaker and stops to sell fresh produce. Both programs accept food-assistance cards.
This past Monday brought good news much closer to home: The Seattle Times wrote about the Delridge Produce Cooperative, which is currently giving away organic produce at "mobile markets" at various locations on Delridge Way S.W. The co-op, which launched this year with a $15,000 grant from the city, eventually hopes to open a permanent store. For now, they'll continue handing out free organic produce to neighborhood residents for the next three weeks. (To volunteer, donate, or find out more information, call 271-1880 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)