Friday, February 11, 2005

Food insecurity and local farms

A new report evaluates the effectiveness of USDA surveys aimed at quantifying food insecurity in America. [via US Food Policy]
Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. Food security includes at a minimum (1) the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and (2) an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways...

Food insecurity can occur with or without hunger, which is defined as uneasy or painful sensation caused by a lack of food [involuntary] .
A concern voiced by the report is that since the survey is based on household data, it may miss those living in group-settings - those institutionalized or homeless, for example. The survey also does not take into account the presence of children in a household or the time length/frequency of food insecurity.

Locally grown food availability is closely linked to food insecurity issues in many areas. The presence of nearby farms (and farmers' markets) can determine a community's access to fresh, quality produce in neighborhoods that otherwise only have access to "second-rate" produce amidst aisles of junk, or the many that are devoid of supermarkets altogether. Also, many food pantries get donations of veggies/fruit that have not sold at a farmer's market or that may have dropped onto the ground. But that can't happen if there are no local farms.

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