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An Oasis in the Food Desert

© Carl Warner,

While it seems you can’t walk down the street these days without running into a community garden, many low-income neighborhoods still lack access to healthy and affordable food. The absence of supermarkets—hence the name “food deserts”—forces residents to rely on fast-food restaurants and convenience stores, leading to limited food options and diet-related medical problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Ietef “DJ Cavem” Vita, a hip-hop artist who raps about food justice, is part of a movement that uses urban agriculture to restore people’s health and rebuild communities. Vita has helped start community gardens in Denver neighborhoods afflicted with drugs and gangs so that young people can learn how to grow their own vegetables. The fresh produce they harvest not only provides their families with healthy food, but it also offers entrepreneurial opportunities; one young man Vita mentored started a business turning people’s lawns into edible gardens. In Oakland, California, the nonprofit organization Planting Justice provides urban agriculture jobs to formerly incarcerated men as they …

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Community OrganizingFood

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