Driving down Oak street for the ten millionth time this week I finally notice the Hayes Valley Farm. I couldn’t be sure that it was actually a farm because the city block it’s on is probably one of the most high traffic areas in the city–on the block formed by Oak and Fell between Octavia and Laguna, and not in the burbs but low and behold it is indeed a farm. I am not sure if produce can even survive in an area inundated with car emissions and grown in soil where a freeway once stood but we shall see.
What a great idea. Recently there’s been a lot of talk about living a green life. Shopping locally and eating seasonally is great for the environment as well as the body, which explains the recent explosion of farmers markets and why they’re so damn trendy. But bringing fresh produce to the inner city also makes it affordable and accessible to low-income residents who may not have a car or may otherwise have limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Besides eating green, another issue in the food community not discussed enough isfood injustice. The term food injustice refers to a scenario that is familiar to many low-income city dwellers. Imagine that you and your family are on a limited income, money is really tight. The nearest grocery store is 2 miles from your house. But you don’t have a car and can’t afford zipcar, so you depend on Muni or Bart. To get to your house, let’s say in Bayview, to the nearest grocery store with fruits and veggies that aren’t minutes away from molding , you have to get on the T-line and transfer to the 22 to get to Safeway on 16th and Portrero since the Whole Foods on 18th is slightly out of your price range.
On the way to Safeway you notice there are plenty of options for food that is already prepared, much cheaper than a grocery bill and you don’t have to lug heavy paper bags back home on Muni hoping they don’t break. McDonalds–there are three in the 94107, serves burgers for a dollar; so you can get five of them for $5 dollars or make the trek to Safeway and get 5 ounces of organic salad greens. The choice is obvious when the budget is small and there are multiple mouths to feed. Health takes second place.
*This is a disgusting reality for many people who live in cities all across the nation.
Hopefully, the Hayes Valley Farm is the first up in starting a nationwide trend. City farms can bring food costs down by cutting out the middle man (supermarkets), make fresh foods accessible and if they have a farmers market bring some equality to a town with an uppity farmers market scene.