I’d also like to hold up the lens of history and share with you the map on this page (you’ll have to scroll down). The red spots indicate places (gardens and gardeners) mentioned in Charles Lathrop Pack’s 1919 book, The War Garden Victorious. Pack, you may recall, spearheaded war gardening during WWI and helped re-brand it as “victory gardening” after the war ended. One of the reasons he wanted to do so was to encourage people to provide for themselves through urban, suburban and rural gardens to fight food scarcity even in peace time.
Now take a look at the map of local food sources on LocalHarvest.org’s site.
Do you see a similar “hole” in the two maps? What do you make of the modern Western “food desert”? Is it solely the byproduct of a challenging climate? Is it a population issue?
I don’t have the answers, but I’ve been puzzling through these two maps since I first mentioned them on the old site in May of 2008. And note that Pack’s map was around a long time before fast foods and supermarkets came along.
Seeing this video today made me want to bring them out again. If we’re going to wipe out “food deserts” in seven years as Mrs. Obama desires, might we need to look for some answers in this disparity? To be clear, I’m emphatically not becoming a defender of cheap, crappy food purveyors (!). I am, however, wondering if we need to be mindful that what needs to be done in some rural areas–especially in the West–may be different than techniques employed in Detroit or even Georgia. Are we fully prepared for that possibility? Is the White House?
Then again, these may just be a couple of curiously similar maps… and nothing more.