What No One Tells You About Food Banks in New Orleans

New Orleans is a city of survivors. Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005 and the city of New Orleans was changed forever. Forever. The city’s built infrastructures (transportation, buildings, hospitals) were destroyed. Another type of infrastructure also was destroyed: the city’s food system. This infrastructure includes a variety of processes:

  • Food production
  • Food processing
  • Food distribution
  • Food retail and marketing
  • Capital (natural, human, social, economic)

How are people in New Orleans surviving in 2018? Although the city was hit by more floods and heavy rains last summer, the built environment is recovering. But the people are still struggling. What is the state of New Orleans’ food system? Did federal disaster recovery funding help the city? Why is the food-based infrastructure slow to recover?

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How to Reboot Our Food System

Food is ubiquitous – it’s everywhere and invisible. We ignore it, indulge in it, waste it, eat it raw, cooked, organic or genetically modified. We take it for granted that there will always be food around. But we can’t forget about those without: the 84% of refugees living in developing countries, or the small farmers around the world. These are the farmers who grow crops for the global food system and barely have enough to eat. Many of these farmers don’t get the subsidies they need to survive – the result is an increase in suicides in farming communities from India to New Zealand and across the US. What is the future of food for small farmers? Are agricultural technologies the best solution? What are the smart food policies to feed 10 billion people by 2050? Can we create resilient agriculture for the future?

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Rural Food Insecurity: Myths & Realities

There are 3,142 counties in the US, with 2,323 counties are rural areas. About 60 million people (19.3% of the US population) live on 97% of the land. Many people in rural communities are food insecure – they don’t have enough food to eat. There is a myth that  people in rural America have easy access to good food. What’s the most food insecure state? Mississippi, and Jefferson County, MS (pop. 7,297) has the highest food insecurity (38%) in the country in 2017: 2,870 people are hungry.

I started my column Tomorrow’s Food – Today’s Policies to stay engaged in food policy studies. My dissertation explored urban agriculture, but it’s time to look at food policy beyond the city: rural America. My Food Disparities in Rural Missouri  blog peaked my interest to keep exploring. This year, I gathered a team for a presentation for a food conference. We’ll talk about food policy, food education and nutritional health in rural America. What are the food challenge in rural America? How are they different from urban food problems? What solutions can best service rural communities?

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Obese With and Without Fast Food

Food swamps reflect the imbalance between fast food restaurants and healthy food choices. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog called Food Swamps: A New Urban Reality.  A study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity concluded that food swamps contribute to obesity in adult populations in low-income areas. Food swamps are a better predictor of obesity rates than food deserts or areas with little access to healthy and affordable food. But what happens when you shrink the number of fast food places in a neighborhood? How does that affect the obesity rate? Does food policy solve a problem or create new ones?

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Food Policy 101: Part 2

Welcome back to Today’s Policies – Tomorrow’s Food. To learn about food policy, we should understand its basic concepts. I won’t bore you with food policy jargon, but some knowledge of food policy concepts is useful. Food policy might seem intangible, but it is critical to our survival. This week’s FP 101 series is a guide to food policy concepts.

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Food Policy 101: Part 1

Food policies are the regulations that determine our food system. Examples include regulations for food production, price, variety, transport, distribution, access, quality, food safety, and who grows our food. It’s true that food policy (FP) is complex  – there is no umbrella FP for every community every where.

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Tomorrow’s Food – Today’s Policies

Welcome!  To celebrate World Food Day on October 16, I’m releasing my new blog called Tomorrow’s Food – Today’s Policies or TFTP for short. My name is Bessie DiDomenica, a PhD in urban food policy and food systems. Let’s explore the challenges of feeding people, learn about local food systems, and unravel solutions for our future survival. We all have to eat and we need a resilient plan for animals and tomorrow’s generations of eaters.

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