Reality. Walking through the grocery store I spot a woman pushing a cart visibly absent of any fruit or vegetables, but instead brimming with soda cans, frozen entrees, and processed snack foods, her kids are perched on either side of the cart hitching a ride, and I think to myself, “doesn’t that Mom know how bad that food is for her family’s health and what a poor example she is setting for her children!?” So quick to judge, at the time I was oblivious to the high cost of fresh produce versus other less healthy options such as a frozen pizza that offers more bang for your buck. Sadly there are people unable to afford fresh fruit and vegetables or those who live in areas with little to no access to fresh produce – locations termed food deserts. I buy organic, local food because it is not only important that I feed my family the best quality food available, but it is also my way of protecting the environment and ensuring I support the local economy. I recognize, however, that living in Austin, Texas gives me access to dozens of natural grocery stores, farmers markets, and even farm to doorstep delivery services available at my convenience. Just like I believe everyone deserves to be happy, I also believe everyone deserves to have access to nutritious fruit and vegetables.
Small Steps in the Right Direction. The Obama administration announced a $400 million Healthy Food Financing Initiative to bring grocery stores and other healthy food retailers to under-served urban and rural communities. Organizations such as the Veggie Mobile take matters into their own hands to make available produce at wholesale prices to under-served communities. Sow Much Good, a non-profit organic farming initiative “provides organic foods at no cost to marginalized populations and creates opportunities for individuals to take part in the development of local, sustainable food source creation”. Many Austin area farmers markets accept food stamps and WIC-FMNP to purchase eligible products at local farmers markets year around, when available.
Everyone Can Help. In Austin, I came across this post on the Lily Farm’s Farmhouse Delivery Facebook community page. It is encouraging to witness first-hand, in my own backyard, someone showing compassion to a fellow community member in need. With Earth Day around the corner on April 22, I encourage you to share your bounty with someone in need. If you are fortunate enough to have fresh vegetables in your own backyard, consider giving as a gift in honor of Earth Day. If you are uncertain as to where to find someone in need, places like Caritas of Austin food programs rely heavily on food donations from the community. Volunteer at Mobile Loaves & Fishes on the harvest crew or produce washing and bunching team. This Earth Day I pledge to share my very modest harvest! You?