The Breadbasket Blues: A Central California Kitchen Story
The Kitchen Sisters travel to California's Central Valley, the nation's breadbasket, to look at what is feeding the epidemic of juvenile obesity and type 2 diabetes, and talk to some of the local kitchen visionaries grappling with these issues. The story looks at some of the unexpected factors that impact the health of a community: no sidewalks, no streetlights, drugs, gangs, wild dogs, lack of local grocery stores with fresh produce, and fast food. It was the wild dogs that got the Kitchen Sisters thinking Hidden Kitchens. Listen to the story here.
We were first introduced to many of these issues affecting the Central Valley at an exhibit at the California Endowment, called Food Fight! that featured young people from across California dealling with obesity and type 2 diabetes in their communities. It was there where we heard about the wild dogs.
These problems are not just confined to the Central Valley. In urban areas throughout the state, food activists and kitchen visionaries are devising strategies to combat "food deserts," where grocery stores and access to fresh food is scarce. The People's Grocery in Oakland is one such group:
In south Los Angeles, students at the Accelerated School have teamed up with Healthy Eating, Active Communities for a project called Market Makeovers that transforms corner stores in their community and encourages them to carry fresh produce and other healthy foods. The youth along with Public Matters have created a series of online videos about their project:
We spoke with some of the youth involved in the Market Makeovers project and Brahm Ahmadi of People's Grocery at an event in Los Angeles sponsored by the California Endowoment. The event was catered by the Kogi Korean BBQ taco truck, Let's Be Frank hot dogs, and the Homegirl Cafe, a project based in Los Angeles that trains former gang members and young at risk women how to cook and run a restaurant. We had the pleasure of inviting Homegirl Cafe founder, Patty Zarate, and two of the homegirls on stage to discuss the project. Watch the event in its entirety at the here.
We also spoke with Genoveva Islas-Hooker and Jennifer Lopez of the Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Project, who are working with youth in the Central Valley on a Photovoice Project, "a health promotion strategy that allows people to document the strengths and concerns of their community and make them known to policy makers."