Saturday, October 17, 2015

Are supermarkets the answer?

One of the things I've been thinking about since I took the the EdX course, The Ethics of Eating (from Cornell), is whether supermarkets are the answer to food deserts. Pretty obviously, supermarkets aren't feasible in rural food deserts - no one is going to invest in establishing a business without a certain level of customer traffic. But what about urban food deserts?

I'm not usually a fan of TED talks - secular sermons is the way I think of them. But in one assigned for our viewing LaDonna Redmond opined that supermarkets only play into the industrial food model, the commodifying of a basic human need and right.  She approached her activism for urban food justice from the perspective of her children's health.

"The public health issue of violence is connected to the public health issue of chronic diet related diseases," is one of her basic premises. The implication here is that most of what's available in a supermarket - aggressively marketed, highly processed commodity foods - contributes to diet related diseases in a way that does violence to people. Supermarkets are a part of what's wrong with the system, hand in glove with food processors, not necessarily the answer. So the approach to remedying urban food deserts, where, as Redmond points out, it's easier to buy an automatic weapon than a tomato, may need to be more complex, community-based solutions than simply bringing in a supermarket.  In my understanding, that means food sovereignty, more than food justice, is what must be restored to urban communities.

There is a lot to think about in Redmond's talk:

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