Saturday, January 18, 2014

Affordable Homegrown Food and Sustainability

Posted by Ceylan Odunkesenter, ATLANTA, GA --The rising cost of food – up almost 300 percent since 1978 – stagnant wages; rising housing costs; and most recently, Congressional threats to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps) has created a growing disconnect between Americans and healthy food. Why? Well for one thing processed and fast foods are inexpensive and quick. But while these foods may be cheap they are not healthy. They are a major contributing factor to increasing obesity, even among people who go hungry for days on end.


Atlanta has a relatively high poverty rate but this city is reclaiming healthy affordable eating through urban farming. The establishment of community gardens and local farmers' markets are creating a heightened awareness of the affordable healthy food crisis occurring in urban communities. Gardenhood is a local nursery that offers workshops and inexpensive supplies for urban food growers. They raise their own chickens for fertilizer and fresh eggs, as well as sell constructed chicken coops, which are allowed within the city limits.

The Reynoldstown Community Garden rents out garden plots for only $15 a year. Daniel, an Atlanta resident, has a plot there growing broccoli, mustard, arugula, cilantro, and kale. “I think people need to decide on doing what's worth their time. I don't have a lot of time, but I can come here and work on my plot whenever I want and I would say I eat pretty well,” said Daniel. Amanda, another Atlanta resident working for National Public Radio, also invests time in growing her own food. She has a modest garden bed for a herbs and some vegetables in her front yard and keeps three hens in her backyard where they can roam freely outside their coop. She also has a large compost barrel and a rain barrel next to the house that collects rain water for reuse.


But even if you don't engage in food growing, Atlanta has weekly farmers' markets in already every neighborhood -- from affluent to poor. Some even accept food stamps. I know that Atlanta is only one of the many urban communities striving for better and more affordable food through homegrown means. I mean, look at Detroit. When we eat better, we feel better and live better. Growing locally means growing as a community, and an affordable one at that!

Ceylan Odunkesenter is a Sociology Major at Georgia State University interested in urban issues. She can be contacted at

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