People are becoming more interested in where their food comes from and how it's produced. There aren't good statistics on how many people grow their own food, but it's estimated that 1 billion people in the world grow food for home consumption or to sell.
“In the United States, this is sort of the result of foodies and hipsters wanting to gain a closer connection to their food source, so what's better than growing it in your own backyard?” she said.
Nierenberg said there are organizations that help build food systems in cities. Growing Power, formed in 1993, helps provide communities with safe, affordable and healthy foods.
In Oklahoma City, CommonWealth Urban Farms is a local food network that works to redevelop vacant lots. Its website is commonwealthurbanfarms.com.
Sustainable OKC, at www.sustainableokc.org, also has information about local efforts.
How can cities improve food access?
“It's not just about putting grocery stores in urban food deserts,” Nierenberg said. “It's about making sure that people have access to the food that they want and are able to afford it.”
Nierenberg said the fact that people can't afford food is often lost in the conversation about accessibility to food.
Regardless of whether a community wants to bring in a grocery store, a farmer's market or a mobile food truck with fresh vegetables, the food provided must be affordable enough for the residents, she said.
“If you think about food as a human right, and all people can afford is chips and soda, and they can't afford brown rice and vegetables and humanely raised and environmentally sustainable meat, then we're not doing something right here,” Nierenberg said. “We want everyone to eat well, but we're not making it happen for them.”