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Quite amazing, eh?

“It becomes a real scarcity over winter,” said Cordia Pugh, the founder of Hermitage Community Gardens in Chicago. “A real scarcity as we race through the winter, waiting for spring to come when we can get back in the gardens to get fresh produce.”

Pugh spoke with Salon earlier this year about her community gardens, which are located in Englewood, where, according to municipal data, nearly 95% of the neighborhood’s residents are non-Hispanic Black, and nearly 80% of that population lives with low or volatile access to fresh produce.

“This is not hobby gardening, this is food security for us,” Pugh said at the time. “This is food insurance in the epicenter of a food desert. If we did not grow this fresh produce, we would not have fresh produce accessible to us. There is no accessible big box store in this community — or if we bought it through those venues, it would be from vendors that would quadruple the price.”

Gaining fresh veggies out of season is expensive.

Blimey, blow me down ‘n’ all that….

44 thoughts on “Quite amazing, eh?”

  1. There is no accessible big box store in this community

    Obviously the result of rampant shoplifting and occasional looting corporate white supremacery.

  2. Does none of them have a van in which a couple of them could go to a big box store and buy in bulk, then bring it back and set up a distribution centre sorry, center? Give it a snappy name. How about Food Bank or even Out of Season Food Bank?

  3. I guess what they really need is a Community Organiser sorry, Organizer. They used to have them in Chicago, didn’t they?

  4. Is Salon the epicentre of an intellectual desert written by and for people who know nothing about growing vegetables?

    In finest literary tradition, Pugh must be blind: Leeks, Brexit sprouts, kale and many root vegetables will stand perfectly well during the winter months so she doesn’t have to wait till spring to get back into the gardens.

    It’s a tribute to the probity of the nearly 95% of the neighborhood’s residents who are non-Hispanic Black, and nearly 80% of that population that lives with low or volatile access to fresh produce that they don’t filch Ms Pugh’s produce but, then again, perhaps they don’t recognise it as food.

  5. If you’re going to live in the murder capital of Chicago, and grow food and live on welfare, why not move to Florida, California, Oregon or Georgia?

  6. There’s a Walmart just over a mile away. And a Walmart ‘supercenter’ at 3 miles.

    And an Aldi next to both of them.

  7. ” There’s a Walmart just over a mile away. And a Walmart ‘supercenter’ at 3 miles.”

    Sounds like you’re expecting them to go to the shops for their neighbours. Seems racist to me, didn’t you know that white folks owe them food?

  8. A few months back when someone posted one of those British “food desert” studies, I went and took a look. One of the dots I chose, in sheer irony, actually came up in a Morrison’s car park…

    What they were actually measuring, and what they’d presented it as, were two completely different things: they were looking at “communities” over a certain size having access to two (!) large (!) supermarkets within a certain distance. If you didn’t, then you lived in a “food desert” apparently.

    When I think back to my childhood in a commuter town in Berkshire, we only had one medium supermarket, so I guess by those standards it was a “food desert”…

  9. When I think back to my childhood in a commuter town in Berkshire, we only had one medium supermarket, so I guess by those standards it was a “food desert”…

    By those criteria, the small rural Gloucestershire market town surrounded by farmland that I grew up in must have been a “food desert”, as it had no supermarkets and many small independent shops selling food.

  10. There’s a Walmart just over a mile away.

    There’s an effing Whole Foods in the middle of town. Never mind that Amazon will now deliver groceries to anybody.

  11. ‘quadruple the Price’s

    Bullshit. No food is more expensive than the food you grow at home. If they figured in the actual cost of that free labor – at local minimum wage – they’d quickly see how cheap supermarket produce is.

    I eat the most expensive chicken and eggs in the county.

  12. Hmm, looking at the places near me, it’s laughable. Most of them are within a simple bus ride or a moderate walk of a large supermarket. Their methodology stinks. Unless the point is to create as large a fuss as possible within the technical limits of data torture?

  13. @surreptitious evil: Look south of Bristol. One of the “Most Deprived Food Deserts” dots comes up a stone’s throw from a huge Morrison’s…

  14. Yes, I had a look at a bit of Hull and there was a Heron (sort of a budget Iceland maybe) and an Aldi. Then Rhyl, which had Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Iceland. These are food deserts?

  15. Took a look at the most deprived spot in Brum and it’s round the corner from the main shopping strip in Sparkbrook. Of course if you don’t speak Pakistani you may not fare so well..

  16. Bloke in North Powys

    Well, apparently I live in a Most Deprived Area in Mid Wales. The red dot on the map seems to neatly cover an area in which there are Tescos, Morrisons, Lidl, Iceland and, soon, Aldi. I don’t feel too deprived when I drive 8 or so miles each week to shop there.

  17. “If we did not grow this fresh produce, we would not have fresh produce accessible to us.”

    Do they grow their own steers? From where to they get milk? What differentiates produce from all other food?

  18. Bloke in North Dorset

    That food desert map is a joke.

    Fortuneswell (Portland) has a Lidl and Coop within about a 10 minute walk, a big Tesco about 10 minutes on the bus and in the other direction Weymouth is about 20 minutes on the bus.

    And Taunton? We often stop at a massive Salisbury’s to restock the motorhome when up that way and it has a wonderful sushi bar. There’s also a small Salisbury’s and a Tesco that I’m aware of.

    Apart from our village shop which has a few essentials, and some food, the neaest supermarket’s getting on for 30 minutes drive.

  19. The US is full of white racists who publish the thoughts of blacks with the intention of persuading us that African-Americans are unusually stupid. It’s time for censorship.

  20. I see Kelloggs are too incompetent to configure a Google maps API key. And for more giggles, the St Mellons marker near Cardiff is less than half a mile from an enormous Tesco.

  21. Bloke in North Dorset

    Gamecock,

    Thanks for that link. Never heard of him but what great argument.

    Now off to search him out and learn more…

  22. I quite liked the complaint about the lack of local supermarkets. Apparantly there are two, but one shuttered up while there were (violent) protests going on nearby. They are complaining that when they burn shops down there are no shops provided for them to loot….

    Reminds me of the man who murdered his parents and then asked the court for clemency on the grounds that he was an orphan…

  23. Anything with ” community” in it is going to be bollox, and perhaps the food desert is the result of lack of demand, which is hardly the suppliers fault, is it?

  24. @abacab, Truly ridiculous! The “food desert” near me is plonked right in the middle of a nature reserve, but is still closer to a major supermarket than I can park the car for the station!

    I expect it qualifies as yet another “crisis”……

  25. So Much For Subtlety

    The Meissen Bison November 15, 2020 at 1:05 pm – “It’s a tribute to the probity of the nearly 95% of the neighborhood’s residents who are non-Hispanic Black, and nearly 80% of that population that lives with low or volatile access to fresh produce that they don’t filch Ms Pugh’s produce”

    I would love to see a young Black urban thief in prison with everyone else saying they were in for murder, crack dealing, carjacking, and him admitting he got done for three courgettes and a cabbage.

    Bloke in Wales November 15, 2020 at 4:56 pm – “By those criteria, the small rural Gloucestershire market town surrounded by farmland that I grew up in must have been a “food desert”, as it had no supermarkets and many small independent shops selling food.”

    Looking back it is interesting to note that from where I grew up, surrounded by farm land, was also a food desert. The things you learn.

  26. abacab,

    “A few months back when someone posted one of those British “food desert” studies, I went and took a look. One of the dots I chose, in sheer irony, actually came up in a Morrison’s car park…

    What they were actually measuring, and what they’d presented it as, were two completely different things: they were looking at “communities” over a certain size having access to two (!) large (!) supermarkets within a certain distance. If you didn’t, then you lived in a “food desert” apparently.”

    I can sorta see the logic of this, that there’s plenty of competition and all that.

    The problem is that the methodology fails if that supermarket is still competing for customers on the other side, as well as that some people in the “food desert” have a car.

    For instance, there’s one in Walcot East in Swindon. They have Aldi nearby and around 55% of households don’t have a car. But that misses the fact that people down in County Road, or up towards Old Town in Swindon have 2 supermarkets each, one of which is an Aldi. So, if Aldi tries to take the piss, and raise the price of food by 25%, they’ll lose the people from County Road and Old Town, as well as 45% of people in Walcot East. And that just ain’t going to be good business.

    And… it’s Aldi, FFS.

  27. On that map if you look in the middle of the North Yorkshire Moors, 20 miles from the nearest habitation, there’s nary a green dot in sight.

  28. “A real scarcity as we race through the winter, waiting for spring to come when we can get back in the gardens to get fresh produce.”

    Also, now that I think about it, have these people not heard of transparent plastic sheeting? Build a light wood frame, staple sheeting to it, inside and out to get an air gap for insulation, bam, you have a makeshift greenhouse.

    Even set up some compost bins to generate heat to keep it warmer.

  29. How many three and four letter agencies demanding indulgences and tribute will descend on them for the plastic sheeting, or even one person going to a store in a van to buy for many?

  30. @jgh – there’s a threshold for “community size” they’re using, which is why smaller villages, moorland etc don’t get a dot.

  31. I’ve been looking for a “this is not a hobby” hobby and this could well be it. Get an allotment, grow a shiton of runnerbeans, get to the point can’t bear stringing another single one. Give the rest to people who can’t get hold of pak choi from their local tobacconists. Bask in virtue.

  32. “waiting for spring to come when we can get back in the gardens to get fresh produce.”

    What climate does she live in? My veggies aren’t ready to harvest in spring, late summer more like.

    “America’s racist produce distribution system . . .”

    How does she define racist produce?

  33. Took a look at the most deprived spot in Brum and it’s round the corner from the main shopping strip in Sparkbrook.

    There’s a tolerably sized Aldi a 9 minute walk away (per google) or, an that be too long a 5 min bus ride, though you might have to wait 5 min for a bus to come…
    As for competition, the non-brand supermarket 2 minute’s walk up the road is hardly lacking for fresh fruit’n’veg and has always been reasonably friendly on the odd time I’ve been in there. If that’s not sufficient competition, the nearest Lidl’s but a 15 minute bus ride away…

  34. TomJ (still in Brum)

    Oh, just for completeness I looked at their “Most deprived food dessert”, Marfleet, Greatfield (Kingston upon Hull). It is less than half a mile from this Aldi and 1 mile from this huge Morrisons. I realise most deprived is talking about general socio-economic deprivation, but it doesn’t bode well for the quality of their analysis.

  35. @TomJ

    I’m not going to read the paper again, but they’re not talking about socio-economic deprivation, but rather access to at least 2 large supermarkets within a certain distance for a community of a certain threshold size.

  36. I think that while they define a food desert as you describe, they then rank them per socio-economic deprivation. Thus the Sparkbrook and Greatfield examples are not the areas in which you are furthest from being able to get proper scran in Brum or the UK respectively, but rather the places which meet their rather daft definition of a food desert that are the most s-e deprived. Which they do not, perhaps make abundantly clear to the casual peruser.

  37. Give the rest to people who can’t get hold of pak choi from their local tobacconists.

    We got some pak choi seeds in a mixed pack of ‘herbs’. Grows like bug***y, even in the frozen north. Don’t use it much, so got to see some pretty little yellow flowers.

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