I can look out of our east windows and see the edge of a desert. If you look hard enough and squint just right, you can almost see the line between abundance and desolation. So that might be a little melodramatic. I can’t see a “desert” in the traditional sense of a place that gets less than 10 inches of water a year. There’s no sand.
But the kind of desert I look at and traverse every day is just as deadly as the Sahara, it’s just more of a long-game type of killer. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, I live next to a food desert.
Food deserts, places where affordable, healthy food is sparse at best, cover a good deal of our country, according to the USDA’s nifty map. Some of it is out in the middle of nowhere so that kind of makes sense. Others are just as likely to be in rural areas as they are urban.
If I look out my dinning room window, I can see our garden and it feels almost like the last way station before the emptiness.
There are people working on shrinking food deserts. One project that is neat is being worked on right now resides in Seattle, the capitol of all things new and hip in the green movement. The project uses a favorite item of the green movements – old shipping containers.
I’ll let them explain it.
Stockbox Grocers responds to [food deserts] with a miniature grocery that’s tucked inside a reclaimed shipping container and placed into the parking lot of an existing business. We innovate on the espresso stand model to build stores throughout urban communities, and provide fresh produce and grocery staples to those who currently without access to good food, where they live.
Stockbox has a prototype up and running through the end of this month. I’m guessing most of these, if successful, would wind up in major urban areas first, just because of the potential to reach larger populations.
Let’s hope Stockbox has the smarts to hookup with local farmers and vendors to actually make an impact on this problem instead of just coming up with another idea for “reclaimed” shipping containers because it’s cool.