The existence of food deserts, areas with low-income populations who have low access to healthy food options, has become a problem in United States, affecting major cities within the country. Food deserts are mainly created by the closure of large supermarket chains in poor areas, which forces the people in that community to shop at convenience stores and gas stations, which in contrast to vegetables and fruits, offer packaged foods that are low in nutrition and high in calories.
These food deserts negatively impact the community in various ways. One is the negative effects on health of the people and the increase in nutrition related health problems such as obesity and diabetes. The second effect of food deserts is the racial segregation that goes along with it. According to multiple studies that were done regarding food deserts and their relation to race, areas that have a mostly African Americans have fewer supermarkets per person than areas that have a dominant white population. This segregation also extend to socio-economic status, since low income neighborhoods within urban communities, the people who need access to fresh and healthy food the most, have less supermarkets than affluent of middle level income neighborhoods.
The practice of urban agriculture has been around for a while but the actual term was coined recently by Will Allen, an expert in the urban agriculture industry who is the founder of Growing Power Inc. Urban agriculture uses waste as a resource to produce fruits, vegetables, poultry and even fish. The efficient procedures used in the practice lead to a great outcome per square feet, which increases the supply of healthier options in inner-city neighborhoods. Urban agriculture has three main categories: urban backyard gardens, community gardens and urban agriculture commercial growers. All of these practices have positive effects on the health of the communities that they are a part of, because they result in an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, which are known to reduce the risk of a long list of diseases. These urban agriculture practices help the ecosystem by using a closed loop system where no waste go to waste and by enabling usage of alternative energy sources such as sun or fuelwood. These urban agriculture practices also help to form a sense of community in the neighborhoods that they are in, which improves the mental health of the people.
Supporting urban agriculture as a policy to decrease the food deserts in the United States is a good way to go about this problem, because the negative effects of the food deserts line up with the benefits of urban agriculture and community gardens. It could be seen in examples from Growing Power Inc, Food Field Detroit, and D-Town farmers that all these organizations, by their practice of urban agriculture are eliminating the bad effects of food deserts. If there is a policy regarding the support for the infrastructure of urban agriculture practices, then they can become more popular, and can improve the inner-city neighborhoods that need help, and create a better and equal America.
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