For city dwellers, the quest to find nutritious food at a reasonable price can be a never ending battle. “Food desert” is a term commonly used to describe communities with little or no access to healthy food, including fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and diary products. With convenience stores, bodegas and large pharmacies lining the corners of the most populated areas in Brooklyn, finding a solid source of all natural foods required a much higher level of commitment. As the summer weather sets in, a plethora of farmer’s markets are springing up around the Brownsville and Bedstuy sections of Brooklyn, an area that desperately needs these options.
Six weekly markets will be offering fresh fruits, vegetables and other goods through November, all conveniently located near pubic transportation and frequently visited areas of the community. Upon the opening of the Malcolm X Boulevard Farmers’ Market, The Brooklyn Reader had a chance to speak with a few patrons about their experience so far.
“It’s a relief whenever I can align my plans so I can hit a farmer’s market to do my grocery shopping. In my neighborhood there is a large Walgreens and nothing else. Even if I want to buy fruit at a small shop in Bedstuy, I’m agreeing to pay an unreasonable amount,” explained Francisco Cuevas of Bedstuy.
As more and more research becomes available regarding the availability of nutritious food and the consequences on the community in their absence, local farmers have made consistent efforts to rise to the occasion. According to a study, the New York Department of City Planning estimates that nearly three million New Yorkers live in communities that don’t have reasonable access to full-fledged supermarkets.
“Many people in low-income neighborhoods are spending their food budget at discount stores or pharmacies where there is no fresh produce,” Amanda Burden, a New York City planning director told the New York Times in an interview.
The main criteria used to classify a community as a food desert is simply the distance from nutritional food retailers and the concentration of those retailers in a particular area. While it sounds inconvenient to travel to another borough or even another section of a borough for food choices, research shows that without the sacrifice, many families end up in poor health. Accordimg to the Colorado Health Foundation, individuals who have access to supermarkets in general tend to have healthier diets and are at lower risk of chronic disease such as diabetes.
In addition to the opportunity to grab organic fruits and vegetables from a local market, shoppers also have a chance to interact with the farmers and advocacy groups that work hard to make these events possible.
In Bedstuy, food hunters can find Farmer’s Markets at the following locations:
- Starting July 9, the Malcolm X Boulevard Farmers’ Market will run on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.between Marion Street and Chauncey Street.
- Starting July 13, the Marcy Plaza Farmers’ Market will run Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the intersection of Fulton Street and Marcy Avenue.
- Starting July 16, the Hattie Carthan Community Farmers’ Market will run on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the intersection of Marcy Avenue and Clifton Place.
- Starting July 31, the Hattie Carthan After Church Farmers’ Market will run on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at 49 Van Buren St.