When most people think about Indiana, they think of a booming agricultural state. But what if we told you that food insecurity exists in every county in Indiana? And 73% of these counties are higher than the National average in food insecurity levels?
We were surprised too. As an Indiana business with a mission to end global food insecurity, this issue is near and dear to our hearts.
In Indianapolis, the mayor’s office estimates as many as one in five residents live in food deserts. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “food deserts”, it refers to communities that have low access to healthy and fresh produce and foods. The USDA defines “low access” as communities with 500 people and/or at least 33% of the census tract’s population that reside more than 1 mile from a supermarket.
Rural areas are considered a food desert if 33% of the people are more than 10 miles from a grocery store.
Looking at the map of Indianapolis above, you’ll see that areas in tan indicate a community where the majority of the population is low income and doesn’t have a grocery store less than a mile away with affordable prices. The Marion County Health Department warns that if people don’t have easy access to fresh produce, low fat meats and low fat dairy products, the community is more likely to experience health issues like obesity and heart disease.
Earlier this year in 2017, many Marsh supermarkets located in or near food deserts in Indianapolis closed. Deputy Mayor of Community Development Jeff Bennett says, “It continues to bring to light the challenges of food access and food insecurity for some of our most vulnerable residents. It’s a huge concern for us when we see grocery stores closing in areas of high need.”
Right now, the only solutions like Marion County have are creating grocery co-ops, establishing urban gardens/farms and organizing food delivery trucks. Farmer Jared Baird of Washington County, Indiana says that those solutions aren’t even enough: “Sometimes just creating new markets and more access to food isn’t the solution. Some people in food deserts don’t even know how to properly prepare fresh foods or cook with them.” He and others feel that in addition to giving food deserts access to food, additional educational programming will improve the overall quality of well-being in low access communities.
But don’t worry; at Aggressively Organic, we’re on a mission to reduce food deserts at home in Indiana and around the world.
We offer affordable and sustainable hydroponic systems that make it insanely easy to start growing their own food no matter where you live (seriously, we have one guy who isn’t even a farmer growing 8,000 plants every 45 days in his spare pole barn!) and our systems only requires 16-32 oz of water to grow a single plant!
We also will be there with you along the way: whether you need help with cooking or growing ideas, we will be by your side. So what are you waiting for? Let’s start growing together and solve this thing, county by county and around the world.