For a time in my life, most of my taco consumption happened in the hours after bars in St. Louis had closed for the night. This isn’t a confessional post about substance abuse, but rather a frank assessment of the state of tacos in the Midwest until recently. Taco lovers in California (and indeed, throughout much of the Southwest) have long enjoyed much finer fare, authentic tacos sold from Mexican taco trucks on street corners. But now, really good tacos are popping up across the country, thanks at least in part to Korean tacos. For more about tacos enjoying newfound street cred, check out my latest post on the USA Character Approved Blog.
In Detroit: Bringing fresh food to the people
For many of Detroit’s nearly one million residents, getting to stores that carry fresh, healthy foods is a major challenge. To help people eat healthier in one of the nation’s worst food deserts, two organizations are taking creative approaches to getting the food to the people.
Part of the problem Detroiters face is the lack of any supermarket chains in the city limits. And small corner stores don’t have ready access to the same produce distribution systems those chains do. Get Fresh Detroit was started by six University of Michigan students as a class project to solve that issue. With nothing but “$2,500 in grant awards, a few thousand dollars in partner investments, some vague semblance of a business plan, and a ’96 Buick dubbed the Get Fresh Mobile,” as their website puts it, two of the students moved to Detroit last May to distribute fresh produce to corner stores throughout the city. They’re already delivering fresh packaged produce to seven stores, a food pantry and a cafe. And they just raised more than $10,000 to buy a refrigerated food truck through Kickstarter, an innovative online funding platform that helps individuals, organizations and small businesses find small investors for their projects. The new truck will enable Get Fresh Detroit to bring fresh, healthy food to far more corner stores.
Peaches and Greens is taking an even more direct approach. Borrowing the Mister Softee business model, their ice cream-style produce truck drives neighborhood streets, selling fresh produce and announcing its presence with its own recorded jingle. Peaches and Greens also has a bricks and mortar store and two community gardens. Operated by the non-profit Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation, their goal is to bring healthier food choices to the people of Detroit. For more information, listen to this recent interview on NPR.
Farm Together Now: A group, a blog and now a book
In 2009, writer Daniel Tucker and collaborators Amy Franceschini and Anne Hamersky traveled coast to coast, talking to farmers about sustainable food production, public policy and community organizing efforts. They called their group and the project Farm Together Now. It’s also the name of their blog. And as of December 1, Farm Together Now: a Portrait of People, Places, and Ideas for a New Food Movement will be a book chronicling their journey. Featuring a foreword by Mark Bittman, the book includes interviews and photo essays with 20 farmers and groups working in agriculture and sustainable food production in the U.S. Part travelogue, part oral history, part creative exploration of food politics, it’s filled with inspiring histories, unique characters and tales of everyday struggles of life on these farms.
Book release event. Author Daniel Tucker will appear at Chicago’s Downtown Farmstand on Wednesday, December 1, as part of their ongoing “Culinary Conversation” series. Tucker will take part in a discussion with local farmers profiled in the book. There will also be a book signing, local food samples and after hours shopping. For more information about the free event or to reserve your space, visit the Chicago’s Downtown Farmstand website.