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Working Things Out

It was like Christmas morning when I opened my Roots of  Change list serve today. Just yesterday, I was commenting on the shortcomings of a tax on junk food to subsidize healthy food. Today, I learned about the NEW California Fresh Works Fund which is a public-private partnership that will loan $200 million to increase access to healthy food in under served communities in California and is endorsed by nutrition crusader, Michelle Obama.

The program’s goal is simple..overcome food deserts – places where there are no grocery stores but only fast food and convenience stores. The fund will finance healthy food stores and eateries to set up shop in critical food access areas. Food Sovereignty efforts like this mend a broken food system and restore a basic human right to quality food. Businesses interested in applying must adhere to a set of guidelines which prohibit no junk food aisles and require a disproportion of healthy food. Better diets will lead to lower cases of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It is the ultimate health care bill…preventive care. The added bonus…the project will create, or secure, over 6000 jobs! See, we can have economic stimulus and eat healthy too! Win-win!

The program, however, doesn’t talk about where the food will come from. Again, the word “healthy” is used very loosely. Replacing junk food with pesticide ridden fruits and vegetables can still cause health issues and can still hurt the earth just as much as junk food…the same chemical inputs are used on a mass scale. Yes, whole foods are better than processed foods but if grown conventionally it is not sustainable.

We can’t rebuild Rome in a day so let’s start with programs like Fresh Works and use it as a conversation starter for changing the whole food system. Let’s use the “works” model to create even more green jobs by helping people become organic farmers who supply the food to these once food deserts. Now we’re cookin’!