A Modern Desert

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I wasn’t really a very good student. Luckily in elementary school I had a great teacher who helped me after school with spelling. Her name was Mrs. Unruh. She used to devise little tricks to help me remember how words were spelled. Besides learning my months of the year in song (“January, February, March, and soon comes April, May, and Juuune”), I still check how many S’s are in desert (or dessert) by saying: “You always want two desserts but only one desert.”

The image of the desert that I held in my mind back then was of the typical Lawrence of Arabia–type landscape, where rolling dunes of yellow-tan sand stretched off to a horizon so dry it made me thirsty just thinking about it. There is, however, another kind of modern desert that exists (more often than we’d like to admit in the U.S.). It’s called a “food desert.” A food desert is a described geography in an industrialized country where healthful and affordable food is difficult to find.

Imagine that you don’t have a car. Perhaps you aren’t able to afford public transportation or might have a condition that makes it difficult for you to move around easily. Now imagine that you don’t have a grocery store anywhere within miles of where you live. Imagine that you don’t have restaurants that serve healthy food. Imagine that liquor stores and fast food are the only retail choices nearby. This area would be called a food desert—a place without many options for feeding yourself or your family in a healthy and affordable way.

While we’ve been trying to address a small part of this problem in San Francisco with the Somethin’ Fresh program—a FruitGuys-sponsored youth program providing subsidized produce delivery door-to-door in the Bayview and Hunters Point areas of SF—we’re constantly thinking about how to address food-access issues around the country.

Recently we were asked to be part of Jamie Oliver’s upcoming Food Revolution show that will bring greater light to this problem. As part of the new season, The FruitGuys is donating a year’s supply of produce to three families in a Los Angeles food desert as a way to help them eat more healthfully and to shed light on some of the challenges facing folks living in areas where good produce is difficult to come by. Food Revolution will air on ABC next Tuesday, April 12 (8/7c).

As always check your mix by region to see what’s in your case. We’re waiting to dry out enough from the rain to find good strawberries. And remember—don’t be concerned if you see a bit of green tint on the pixies this week. That’s just regreening, and it doesn’t affect the ripeness or taste of the fruit. They are still sweet and delicious.

Enjoy & Be Fruitful!

—Chris Mittelstaedt,  chris@fruitguys.com


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Our online magazine offers a taste of workplace culture, trends, and healthy living. It features recipes for easy, delicious work meals and tips on quick office workouts. It's also an opportunity to learn about our GoodWorks program, which helps those in need in our communities and supports small, sustainable farms.