Closing the Food Gap

I was inspired to read more of Mark Winne when I heard him quoted as saying, “the rich get local and organic, and the poor get diabetes.” How else could one so succinctly and arrestingly summarize of the widening gap between the good food available and the challenges that poverty creates.

In “Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in a Land of Plenty,” Winne eloquently shows how different components of our food system – food banks, gardens, and farmers markets, community supported agriculture, the presence or absence of grocery stores in a neighbourhood, and public policy – affect those who are nutritionally vulnerable. Winne identifies short-term solutions to food insecurity, while pointing to ways of addressing the deeper issue, poverty.

Winne also introduces his readers to some of the community leaders who are creating and sustaining innovative programs that get good food onto the tables of their hungry neighbours. Such people put others before themselves, encourage people to help themselves, keep the big picture of a better community in mind, attended to the little details, and are not afraid to challenge the system. Look around the rest of the Planted site to meet a few people who are doing all this, and doing it deliciously.

Although it is never kind to give away how a story ends, the last few lines of “Closing the Food Gap” beautifully explain why we need to work together:

“Because the food system is so diverse and complex, it has many interconnected parts, none of which can be ignored for too long before the system falls out of balance. Focus too intently on hunger, and you’ll lose sight of its cause. Devote yourself too narrowly to agriculture, and you’ll forget about the consumer. Care too much about your own food, and you’ll forsake food justice. There are larger purposes in life when all our interests come together. Closing the food gap is one of them.”

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