Category Archives: Food

Organic, local and sustainable food

Barton predicts Food Lion store will be an oasis in a food desert

foodlionTom Barton wrote about the new Food Lion supermarket, slated for construction on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, in his Savannah Morning News Column yesterday and reveals it was his first encounter with the concept of a food desert, which he describes as “an area where residents must travel vast distances to do their grocery shopping.” Perhaps a better name for this neighborhood and others like it is a food swamp, “a geographic area where the overabundance of high-energy foods (for example, caloric snacks sold at convenience stores) inundate healthy food options.”

wholesomewaveWhatever the term, studies have linked the preponderance of unhealthy food in poorer urban (and rural) neighborhoods as a contributing factor in all sorts of health issues. Still, while Barton laments “the pitiful selection of produce” available at the Choose Market located near the site of the new store, it’s worth noting that some of the healthiest produce to be found anywhere in the region can be purchased just a couple blocks east.  The Forsyth Farmers Market is open every Saturday through Nov. 20. A program called Wholesome Wave, “doubles the value of Federal Food Stamps, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” when used at the market.

Barton does make a good point, though, that the new Food Lion’s impact will go beyond nutrition, writing, “In terms of re-energizing this struggling corridor south of the I-16 flyover, this project isn’t just big. It’s humongous.” He’s also correct in has assessment of the store as a “big plus” for folks without cars.

Bamboo Farm Spring Festival presents opportunity to show support for threatened program

SGF20POSTER202010The 16th Annual Spring Festival at the University of Georgia’s Bamboo Farm and Coastal Garden on March 20 provides a great excuse to visit the largest collection of bamboo specimens available for public viewing in North America and maybe even buy some to take home at the plant sale. Also worth checking out is the Xeriscape demonstration garden. The festival takes place from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

It’s a critical time for this important resource. The Bamboo Farm, which attracts 120,00 visitors a year and employees nine people, has been identified as a potential victim of the latest round of state budget cuts. Here’s a good description of what could be lost and what can be done to protect this important resource.

Sustainable agriculture conference to be held in Savannah, April 16 and 17

greeningthesoutheastThe Greening the Southeast Regional Summit is scheduled for April 16 and 17 at the Coastal Georgia Center in Savannah. According to event organizers, the summit will, “bring together regional and national experts and grassroots organizations to provide training/information and successful models that focus on renewable energy sources for agriculture and forestry, to discuss how does sustainable farming and forestry impact climate change in the Southeast.” Session topics include:

  • Farming and Forestry
  • Non-traditional Funding Sources
  • Climate Change, Renewable Energy Sources, Food Access and Watersheds
  • Successful Grassroots Models
  • Green Action Plans for College Campuses

For more information, visit the summit Web site.

Study links walkability and access to healthy food in Savannah

Picture 3Mary Landers’ story, Savannah examines making healthy food an easier choice, in the Jan. 6 Savannah Morning News describes a study commissioned by the Healthy Savannah Initiative, which documents the problem of food deserts in Savannah.

Landers describes the study’s methodology, which uses a variety of data sources “to come up with a block-by-block analysis of how convenient it is to choose fresh and healthy over fatty and fast. The group calculated a ‘food balance’ score for each city block by dividing the distance from it to any mainstream food provider (such as Kroger) by the distance to any fringe food venue (such as McDonald’s).”

The story  notes that lack of healthy food options is not exlusive to low income, inner city neighborhoods:

Kathryn Martin, chair of Healthy Savannah, knows that from first-hand experience. She’s lived in Southbridge since she moved to Savannah six years ago. “Southbridge is considered affluent, but when I moved there the closest place to access healthy food was 7 miles away in Pooler,” said Martin, a former administrator of the Chatham County Health Department who now is the Medical College of Georgia assistant dean for Southeast Georgia campus. “Officially, I was in a food desert.”

The difference, of course, between affluent communities such as Southbridge and some other neighborhoods is that nearly everyone in Southbridge has access to a car (sometimes more than one car) and thus easy access to healthy food. In other parts of Savannah, where residents depend on public transportation to travel outside their neighborhoods, the food that’s easy to find is often not the healthiest choice. And the study addresses this in one of its recommendations:

Identify traffic routes, especially pedestrian pathways, to mainstream food venues and identify ways to shorten and improve those routes. The dot maps showing the locations of mainstream and fringe food venues will aid in prioritizing where to start on this task.

The study, “A New Day in the Garden: A Food Desert and Food Balance Analysis in Savannah, Georgia,” can be downloaded here.

Forsyth Farmers Market season extended through Dec. 19


Folks, who have made a stop at the Forsyth Farmers Market part of their Saturday morning routine, now have more chances to buy locally grown food directly from the farmers, who grew it.  The market’s season, originally scheduled to conclude today, has been extended for another month. What’s the deal with the market?

The Forsyth Farmers Market was organized by the Savannah Local Food Collaborative  with the primary mission of making fresh, regionally grown produce easily accessible to the citizens of Savannah. The market is limited to agricultural and horticultural products.

Located near the tennis courts at the south end of the park, the market lasts from 9 a.m, to 1 p.m. and is open rain or shine. EBT cards are accepted. On the second Saturday of each month, a “Health Pavilion” features lectures and workshops. A schedule is available on the market’s Web site.