A Solution to the Food Desert

I planted a vegetable garden, and this is so monumental it warrants a blog post. Historically, my track record with plants is grim, but I am determined for my black thumb tendencies to grow at least a few vegetables this season.

I’m am motivated purely by the fact that we will probably never, ever have a Whole Foods, and I am tired of cutting into produce and having it look like this:

A very rotted red bell pepper that looked completely normal until I cut into it.

A very rotted red bell pepper that looked completely normal until I cut into it.

This actually happens a lot. My biggest struggle when I first moved here was the lack of acceptable produce. I realize now that we were very spoiled in New Jersey and D.C. I also realize that Shreveport could probably be categorized as a “Food Desert” when the Farmers’ Market isn’t in session.

“Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options.” (http://apps.ams.usda.gov/fooddeserts/foodDeserts.aspx

We have two main grocery stores in town, and their displays are nice, but the pickings can be slim. Apples are generally mushy, green beans are usually moldy, and cucumbers are always flaccid and limp.

This isn’t to say we lack flavor. Louisiana is known for its cajun cooking, and we definitely have plenty of that, which is great for a night out. We also have every fast-food chain imaginable.

But, in my efforts to avoid living off of take-out and rotted peppers, I have planted a vegetable garden for the fall.

I bought seeds from the very helpful experts at Lex Plant Farm. (The basil seeds were free from a Mrs. Meyer's soap purchase.)

I bought seeds from the very helpful experts at Lex Plant Farm. (The basil seeds were free from a Mrs. Meyer’s soap purchase.)

We’re starting off with carrots, green onions, and basil (those were a freebie), and when it cools down, I’m hoping to add in some beets or broccoli, or both. We’ll see how this goes. I have no idea what I’m doing.

The fertilizer contains blood meal and smells like a slaughter house. Gidget was all over this.

The fertilizer contains blood meal and smells like a slaughter house. Gidget was all over this.

The basil pots! This is technically a summer herb, but it's hot enough still (95 degrees) that I think we can pull this off for now.

The basil pots! This is technically a summer herb, but it’s hot enough still (95 degrees) that I think we can pull this off for now.

The 2 x 2 raised bed for our garden.

The 2 x 2 raised bed for our garden.

We’re five days in and I haven’t forgotten to water anything yet. I’m already feeling victorious.

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3 Comments

Filed under Southern Living

3 responses to “A Solution to the Food Desert

  1. jenn

    you may need to try to venture into the asian markets. they may have better produce (not sure Shreveport). DC/MD/VA- the asian markets are amazing and the top chefs in DC go to them for their produce. However, Memphis is a bit slim picking but actually not bad.

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/bao-bao-food-market-shreveport

  2. Pingback: The tragedy of my little garden | bavs on the bayou

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