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Food Deserts in Oklahoma

food deserts

Many Oklahomans are currently living in food deserts, especially in southeastern Oklahoma. And Oklahoma City is ranked as the second worst city for food access.

“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. The lack of access contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.”- USDA, Food Deserts


It’s estimated that 23.5 million people in the US live in food deserts. More than half of those people are low-income. These people are often forced to shop at convenience store where food costs are high and largely pre-packaged food with low nutritional value and high calorie counts.

The lack of a grocery store leaves communities with higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other diet-related diseases. This is the case in Southeastern Oklahoma, where we see the largest concentration of food deserts in the state. Counties like Atoka, Choctaw, Coal, Le Flore, McCurtain, and Pushmataha have a serious lack of grocery stores and are also one of the poorest regions in Oklahoma.

“The trend in Oklahoma has been for a few large retail chain stores to open in areas where consumers’ incomes are the highest, leaving the most affordable food to Oklahoma’s most affluent areas, according to the report.”- NewsOK, Parts of Oklahoma get ‘food desert’ label

There are some projects popping up around the state to help combat the food desert problem. Valley Brook, one of the many food deserts in the state, has a community garden helping to bring fresh food to the area. And in Tulsa, R&G Family Grocers has a mobile grocery store helping to bring healthy food to the people in Tulsa’s food deserts. And earlier this week, the Oklahoma Food Security Submit was held in hopes of addressing many of these issues.

Ending food deserts must be a priority in Oklahoma.

Do you live in a food desert? Check out NPR’s food desert finder. What do you think we can do to help end food deserts in Oklahoma? Share in the comments below.

 

Original Photo Credits- Small Town OK

The Darker Side of Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a day of love and showing people we care but it can have a darker side. Many of the common gifts that we give on Valentine’s Day have big environment and social impacts.

Many of the flowers sent this Valentine’s Day will have been picked by women and children in South America that are forced to work and often abused. An estimated 20% of cut flower workers in Ecuador are children. The environmental impact is also large, most of these flowers are being shipped in and many have been grown using chemicals like DDT and methyl-bromide, which are banned in the US.

Another favorite Valentine’s Day gift is chocolate. Around 70% of the world’s chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast where much of the chocolate is farmed using forced labor and child labor. Workers are often forced to work in unsafe working conditions and abuse is common place.


You have likely heard about blood diamonds or conflict diamond, diamonds that are used to fuel horrible wars in Africa. While these are becoming less common, conflict metals are still pretty common. Metals and diamonds that aren’t fueling wars may still be causing environmental harm due to poor mining practices.

All of this may sound like there is no way to enjoy Valentine’s Day without harming others and the environment but that’s not true. When looking for flowers look for Fair Trade certified flowers or choose a locally grown plant. With chocolates look for Fair Trade and organic brands, there are a lot of choices and many stores carry at least a few options. And with jewelry look for recycled and vintage pieces or check out the store Brilliant Earth for other more ethical and eco-friendly options. Doing these simple things can make for a very happy Valentine’s Day without harming others or the plant!

 


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.

 

 

World Fair Trade Day

Today is World Fair Trade Day. So what is fair trade anyway? Here is what TransFair USA says are the principles of fair trade.

  • Fair price: Democratically organized farmer groups receive a guaranteed minimum floor price and an additional premium for certified organic products. Farmer organizations are also eligible for pre-harvest credit.
  • Fair labor conditions: Workers on Fair Trade farms enjoy freedom of association, safe working conditions, and living wages. Forced child labor is strictly prohibited.
  • Direct trade: With Fair Trade, importers purchase from Fair Trade producer groups as directly as possible, eliminating unnecessary middlemen and empowering farmers to develop the business capacity necessary to compete in the global marketplace.
  • Democratic and transparent organizations: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers decide democratically how to invest Fair Trade revenues.
  • Community development: Fair Trade farmers and farm workers invest Fair Trade premiums in social and business development projects like scholarship programs, quality improvement trainings, and organic certification.
  • Environmental sustainability: Harmful agrochemicals and GMOs are strictly prohibited in favor of environmentally sustainable farming methods that protect farmers’ health and preserve valuable ecosystems for future generations.

Since we have become distanced from the growing of our food and the making of our products, we often how no idea what goes on in these processes.  Sadly the way many of the things we buy are made, hurt people. Working conditions for many of the workers making our products are dangerous, pay is terrible and sometimes even slave and child labor is used.

Thankfully there is an option to help stop unfair labor, buying Fair Trade products helps show companies that we want fair trade. While coffee, tea and chocolate are some of the more common fair trade items, you can find dozens of products made with fair trade. Everything from fruits to flowers and even sports balls come Fair Trade Certified.

How do you know if an item was made using fair trade? Look for this label-


Fair trade is becoming more popular in Oklahoma with stores, like Native Roots Market in Norman, that cater to fair trade products. Norman Oklahoma has even become a Fair Trade City. It’s only the 17th city in the US to become a Fair Trade City and the first in Oklahoma. Even major chain stores are starting to carry more fair trade products. So consider starting to switch some of the products you use to fair trade products. It will help make a difference in people’s lives.

Also be sure to sign the World Fair Trade Day 2011 declaration and so we can help show the world we want fair trade.
For more information visit-
TransFair USA
Global Exchange
Make Trade Fair
Norman Fair Trade

 


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.