Battle Creek is surrounded by farmland, which makes it difficult to understand why many of its residents are living in a food desert. However, there's a major disconnect between growers and areas that need access to healthy food. Residents have little access to fresh fruits and vegetables, largely because they live in low income neighborhoods where there is little development and public transportation. Zoning encourages fast food chains, gas stations and convenience stores where the cost of fresh food is higher than at a grocery store. This promotes the idea that healthy food is too expensive, and many families living under the poverty level won't consider eating fresh food on a regular basis simply because they believe they can't afford it.
There is a disproportionate amount of African Americans living in food deserts and in low income neighborhoods with little resources. The problem is that racism has been subconsciously implemented in our laws and the way we carry out our laws, making it much more difficult to see since it is intertwined in the system. We have been taught about what racism looked like in the past, but not so much what it looks like now. And when we can't identify it in our current society, we can't do anything to eradicate it.
Good Food Battle Creek is a community group working to repair this broken food system. Made up of local residents, growers, and organizations, GFBC has meetings where participants discuss the issues, possible solutions and network with each other. Having a diverse group of minds around the table allows members to see and hear experiences different than their own and understand on a deeper level how our current system affects everyone. A big part of improving our current system is through education, particularly about racism and how it is in effect today. GFBC hosts a racial equity workshop series, aiming to do just that.
The problems with our current food system are big and it will be a long time before we can change our culture for the better. It's going to take a lot of people coming together, listening to each other and truly caring. But our problems are not too big. They can be solved.