August 4-8 2014

Food Security

The conventional definition of food security is one based on calories, on having access to the affordable and healthy food necessary to keep oneself alive.  When people talk about the food challenges facing low-income urban communities, areas without supermarkets or neighborhood corner grocery stores, where nutritious food is scarce or nonexistent, they often use the term food desert. It’s a colorful, descriptive term. It’s also inaccurate. Food deserts are just as likely to exist in rural areas as in cities; anyone driving cross-country knows that. Our centralized food system is partially responsible for these geographic gaps. Their omissions are less the result of careless oversight and more the outcome of judiciously considered design; either these areas aren’t profitable enough or they are too dangerous or inconsequential to worry about. Urban communities are now using a variety of tools to strengthen their local food systems, including growing food in urban gardens and putting a new twist on corner store.

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“Food access is determined by a variety of factors. The income of people experiencing hunger, the racial or cultural background of certain populations, and the distance between people and food markets. [To counter this], people have developed approaches to promote neighborhood-based food retail outlets or community gardens in disadvantaged communities, and public education campaigns to highlight such inequities as the prevalence of low-quality corner and convenience stores in underserved communities.”Wayne Roberts, former director of Toronto’s Food Policy Council


An area where residents lack access to affordable fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat milk, legumes and other foods that constitute a healthy diet. Grocery stores are either inaccessible to these shoppers due to high prices or inadequate public transit or both.


A new twist on the corner store provides healthier and more economical food choices for consumers living in urban communities instead of only selling items like processed food, tobacco, and alcohol.


The politics and culture of food are often expressed in terms of food security and food sovereignty. These two terms are often used interchangeably, even though they mean different things. Erika Allen of Chicago’s Growing Power explains that food security considers whether a person knows where his or her next meal is coming from, while food sovereignty defends a community’s right to decide how they’re fed.


Erika Allen, National Director and Chicago Director, Growing Power
Xuyen Pham, Vietnamese Gardener, East New Orleans

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Excerpt from The Lexicon’s Film Discussion Guide “Food Security”:

Not everyone knows where his or her next meal is coming from. For many people, obtaining food isn’t as easy as traveling to the nearest grocery store, and sometimes grocery stores with healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food don’t exist within a neighborhood or town. These areas are known as Food Deserts.

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Find fun facts and quotations in our interviews with Lexicon thought leaders. And link back to the Lexicon so we can share your article!

Erika Allen, Growing Power

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Addressing Global Food Security


“Rich people are getting an excess of calories while poor people are getting too little,” states Sonja Vermeulen of Climate Change, Agriculture & Food Security. In this interview, Food Tank addresses climate change and improving food security through agriculture with Sonja Vermeulen who addresses the links between climate change, agriculture, and food security

Link: Read Food Tank’s interview with Sonja Vermeulen.

Food Tank is focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters. They spotlight environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable ways of alleviating hunger, obesity, and poverty and creating networks of people, organizations, and content to push for food system change.

“Food Security & Food Access”

There are many complex reasons an individual becomes food insecure. Poverty is unmistakably the driving factor in the lack of resources to purchase or otherwise procure food, but the root causes of poverty are multifaceted. Poverty, combined with other socioeconomic and political problems, creates the bulk of food insecurity around the globe.

Link: Check out this useful information about Food Security and Food Access

GRACE Communications Foundation develops innovative strategies to increase public awareness of the critical environmental and public health issues created by our current food, water and energy systems, and to promote a more sustainable future.


Food Security & the Environment, Smog Eating Roofs & More!

The world’s existing cropland could feed at least 3 billion extra people if it were used more efficiently, a new study has found, showing that the large increases in population expected in the next three decades need not result in widespread hunger.

Link: Read more on Green Divas environmental news wrap-up

The Green Divas Show is a one-hour, weekly and interactive internet-based radio broadcast that inspires sustainable living from a guilt-free, low-stress perspective—making green information accessible to a broad audience using credible resources, humor and technology.


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Information Artwork Text

Title: Food Desert
Location: Altgeld Gardens Liquor, Altgeld Gardens, IL
Found on Page 59 of LOCAL: The New Face of Food & Farming in America

I ask Erika Allen of Chicago’s Growing Power (which has started a farm at Altgeld) how to fix Food Desert in your neighborhood. Her answer? Grow your own.

Altgeld is one of the oldest public housing project in the United States. Aside from a liquor store situated on site, there are no nearby food sources for the community’s 2,500+ residents. It is a Food Desert.

Food Desert references an area where residents lack access to affordable fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat milk, legumes and other food that constitute a healthy diet. Grocery stores are either inaccessible to these shoppers due to high prices and/or inadequate public transit. As a result, residents buy food and drinks from gas stations, fast food restaurants and corner stores, which primarily sell processed food. This often leaves these individuals at risk for obesity, diabetes and chronic illness. According to Growing Power’s Michelle Lee, “It’s a food drought with less food or no food and lots of hungry people.”

Information Artwork Text

Title: Corner Store
Location: Village Market, New Columbia, Portland, OR
Featuring: Amber Baker, Village Gardens Program Director, Charles Robertson, Village Market Community Volunteer
Found on Page 61 of LOCAL: The New Face of Food & Farming in America

Village Market Corner Store: Providing healthier and more economical food choices for consumers living in urban communities.

Many people living in public housing don’t own cars. When supermarkets are not within walking distance or easily reached by public transportation, these residents must shop for their food at gas stations and corner stores. Village Gardens provides jobs, consumer education and more nutritious food choices (including fresh produce and prepared foods) for their residents in New Columbia.


Information Artwork Text

Title: Food Security
Location: Erika Allen’s Backyard, West Garfield Park, Chicago, IL
Featuring: Erika Allen, National Program Director, Growing Power, Ayo, Age 2
Found on Page 219 of LOCAL: The New Face of Food & Farming in America

Food Security, says Erika Allen, means “Having consistent year round access to safe, local, affordable and culturally appropriate food that is grown, raised, produced and moved about in manners that are responsible to the environment while reflecting a consumption of natural resources that is equitable with a view to our offspring seven generations from now.”

When Erika moved onto this street five years ago she set out to create a safe, nurturing habitat and to show her neighbors what could be done to transform and bring into balance even the most challenged communities.

Erika grows heirloom tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, suyo long cucumbers, Italian eggplants, ping tung eggplants, blanco eggplants, okra, ground cherry endive, cosmic purple carrots, nante carrots, leeks, redbor kale, dwarf curled kale, Russian kale, dandelion greens (red rib), scarlet runner beans, fever few, chamomile, thyme, table grapes, sunflowers and lots of basil (and that’s just her summer crop).

Though he’s only two, Ayo already knows where his food comes from. When he’s older, he’ll know how to grow his own food. That’s food security.


Find fun facts and quotations in our interviews with Lexicon thought leaders. And link back to the Lexicon so we can share your article!

Edwin Marty, E.A.T. South

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An Interview with EcoCentric Hero
Gary Oppenheimer of Ample Harvest

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 11.40.19In 2009, Master Gardener, Gary Oppenheimer, had an idea to reduce food waste and help feed the hungry in his community by connecting those with extra produce to food pantries, and in just seven weeks, his, had come to fruition.

Link: Listen to Gary Oppenheimer’s Incredible Story



Host a painting party with these in your classroom, or at your home and invite the neighbors over! The Lexicon of Sustainability is excited to present a new way to participate in the movement. Inspired by street artists, the Lexicon has converted our popular information artwork into posters for anyone and everyone to paint and share with their community.

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Perennial PlateKIDS AT A FARM


This video shows kids really farming, working all day and selling their produce. They’re not only learning about what good, nutritious food is, they’re taking it to the next level.

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The Perennial Plate is an online weekly documentary series dedicated to socially responsible and adventurous eating. Chef and Activist, Daniel Klein and Filmmaker Mirra Fine are traveling the world exploring the wonders, complexities and stories behind the ever more connected global food system.

Getting at the (Grass) Roots of Food Security

By Tucker Taylor

Food security means planned resilience to disruptions in the supply of food caused by an environmental or social situation. The best plan is a grass roots one. Perhaps the greatest positive impact one can have is starting a produce garden.

By growing your own food and sharing it with others you are helping create a stronger community. This is part of the good food revolution.  Supporting local farmers and artisans empowers them. Increased demand for local, sustainably grown food will, in time, increase the supply, leading to more job opportunities. Free gardening, cooking and nutrition classes will spring up. I have seen it everywhere I have lived: build it and they will come. I have always planted a garden at home. Over time, most of my neighbors have followed suit. It is contagious.

By working with families to build gardens in their own yards you are helping create food security. By creating community gardens you are helping those without space at home to have a garden nearby. These community gardens are also a great platform for teaching and learning. Collectively, these communities become more resilient to the fluctuations in food security.


Tucker TaylorTucker Taylor is an expert in certified organic farming, specialty produce, and sustainability. Taylor strongly believes in soil cultivation—with a healthy dose of compost—as the key to a good harvest. He is now the first Director of Culinary Gardens for Jackson Family Wines, where he spearheads the cultivation of all the company’s gardens globally. Prior to joining the Kendall Jackson family, Tucker oversaw landscaping at every property of the world-renowned chef Thomas Keller’s restaurants (French Laundry, Per Se, Bouchon, Ad Hoc), setting the standard for today’s farm-to-table fine dining. Follow him on Instagram @farmert.
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Recipe of the Week By Chef Ann Cooper

Chef-Ann-Cooper-thumbnailChef Ann Cooper is the Renegade Lunch Lady. She is an internationally recognized author, chef, educator, public speaker, and advocate of healthy food for all children. She is also the founder of Food Family Farming Foundation.

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