Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Farm stand opens in South LA to Fill a Grocery Store Void (KCRW Radio Transcript)

Great music on the radio may be increasingly rare these days, but there is still some very good song-length pieces on talk radio. Here's a recent one I found worthy of transcribing (to sublimate my own personal crisis, once again, in the wider cultural one!)

A Farm stand opens in South LA to fill a grocery store void.
Which Way LA? A 3:32 piece produced by Anna Scott

Starts with crowd noise, & the sound of a typical farmer’s market exchange—
Someone asking for fruit, and being told the price.
Enter voice of commentator: 
A liquor store parking lot in South LA isn’t the typical setting for a farmer’s market, but that’s where a new Friday produce stand started last week. It may just be a single booth with a modest supply of lettuce, grapes, berries, and other fruits and vegetables, but some see it as a major victory:
O: 22:we’re all here together having a fruit stand, partially because the big grocery chains have just decided to abandon south LA and so we’re gonna yell at them and bang on their windows about that, but at the same time, we’re not gonna go hungry”

O: 36: Marquis Harris Dawson is President of the Non-Profit Community Coalition, one of the organizers of the new produce stand. According to the group South LA has roughly one grocery store for every 6,000 people. By comparison, West LA has approximately one store for every 4,000 residents. South LA also has far fewer farmers’ markets, and a higher concentration of fast food and liquor stores.

For years it’s, been referred to as a food desert, with little or no access to fresh affordable foods. The Community Coalition draws a direct link between the neighborhood’s limited food options and its higher rate of health problems like obesity and diabetes, so they partnered with another non-profit, Community Unlimited, which provides the produce for the new farm stand.
Dean Pascal, from Community Unlimited, also lives in South LA:

There’s maybe one grocery story within—I would say—a mile radius that I can even walk to, so it’s super hard, basically. Like you have try to eat healthy, and as opposed to if I walk out of my door, there’s a Kenyon Normandy, a Taco Bell, A Jack in The Box—so this is why this is needed because we need to make eating healthy just as convenient as eating fast food.”

1:54 Many shoppers who turned out for the farm stand last Friday were definitely happy to have a convenient healthy option, but can a small produce stand that’s only open 3 hours a week really make a difference in how people eat? Isaac White has lived in the neighborhood for 54 years:

“Right now, it’s a band-aid over our wound—of not being able to purchase organic foods, fresh fruits and vegetables. Here in the _?___ space neighborhood, if we had a market here locally for the seniors such as myself, we could walk to the store, as it is now we have to be depend on someone coming to get us transportation, etc. etc, just to get there to meet our needs, and we need fresh fruits and vegetables just as  much as other neighborhoods, as anybody else does.”

2:24 Anne Kim recently returned to South LA after finishing graduate school. She doesn’t have her own car, and recently travelled over 6 miles on foot to bring home food from another farmer’s market across town:

“We really need more food resources and ways of preventing us from just becoming, um, fat and unable to enjoy life, and I’d rather be able to walk to my grocery store, walk to my church, walk to do whatever it is I need to live, and I think it’s very very unfortunate, but atrocious that I cannot do that.”

3:20. For some people walking isn’t just a luxury. It’s really hard to take a bus to a grocery store and really carry home enough groceries for a family, so we’ll see if the South LA farm stand catches on. For KCRW, I’m Anna Scott.
++++ (commentary by Chris Stroffolino)

As a radio piece (the length of many pop-songs), Anna Scott is to be commended for her muckraking on this exemplary David-and-Goliath story. Usually stories like that spend so much time trying to give the corporations equal time--interviewing a CEO explaining their rationale for having to close the supermarket, and was pleasantly surprised this one didn't.

It’s definitely an issue that needs to be addressed and publicized more, in hopes of creating a coordinated grass roots network of similar stands. The Food Crisis and The Obesity Epidemic was certainly a big issue that came up when I taught at Laney Community College in Oakland, as well as in my own personal life when I lost my car, and had to rely on what convenience stores were available. It’s also an issue some innovative “conscious hip hop” songs like “Rich” by Beme-The Rapper:

Thus, I was especially happy that the related issue of car-dependency (which may even be more pronounced in Los Angeles than it is in the Bay Area, especially for an ex-New Yorker like myself) comes up in the piece, and how it effects both seniors like Isaac White, and young people like Ann Kemp. Walking is not only the only form of transportation available to some people, it is also a way to become healthier—if you’re able to walk. Thus, the Farm Stand serves a dual purpose; not only does it provide healthy affordable food, it also suggests ways to create alternatives to car-based culture. I crave such neighborhood pieces community activism. As a disabled person (who in a way is doubly disabled, because I neither have a car nor a place to cook), I feel tremendous solidarity with these people.

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