I wanted to continue with the information on food hubs I passed along last time.
While the USDA makes a somewhat narrow definition of a food hub, community food activists are expanding that definition. This is good news for those in food deserts.
Recently, Christopher Weber wrote this for E – The Environmental Magazine: “When you hear about food deserts, the discussion usually concentrates on grocery stores—specifically, where they are located and what they are lacking.”
“It’s almost always a simplistic conversation. Overcoming food inequality and the obesity crisis will require a great deal more than just plopping a Save-a-Lot every few blocks. A grocery store no more ‘solves’ malnutrition than an ATM solves poverty.”
I’ve certainly heard, and perhaps been guilty of, the kind of talk to which he refers. The type of food hub he highlights is approaching the food desert problem with education, as well as availability.
CornUcopia Place, in the East Cleveland neighborhood of Lower Kinsman, is just such a place. With a café, market, teaching kitchen, and “mobile market” truck, they’ve gone well beyond simply making healthy, local food available. The newest feature is a recently planted orchard.
In Cincinnati, Gabriel’s Place is providing many of the same resources in Avondale, also a neighborhood that’s been called a food desert. They have a garden that includes a hoop house to extend the growing season, they provide education in their commercial kitchen, which is also available to cottage industry (canning, preserving, baking), and they hold a weekly market.
Outside of the challenging environment of the food desert, another entity that could be called a food hub is Green BEAN Delivery. They will deliver healthy, local food to your home or business, drawing on sources such as local farmers and cottage industry, as well as their own produce and products. They also provide produce from other parts of the world when appropriate, sourcing it as near and responsibly as possible. Green BEAN operates throughout the region, in Indiana (Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Muncie, and Anderson), Ohio (Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton), Kentucky (Louisville, Lexington), and in St. Louis, Missouri.
These food hubs are providing some of the same aggregation and distribution services for small farmers and cottage industry, but connecting them with consumers rather than restaurateurs.