Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Market day/ adventures in food (1)

There is a farmers market held on Tuesdays near our house in New Orleans. It is a cute little market, well stocked with local seafood, vegetables and even some free range meat. I have gone there the last couple of Tuesdays to pick up supplies for dinner, and this week Colin came with me. We had a lovely time, and purchased the following items:

  • Creole tomatoes, a heirloom tomato variety
  • green peppers
  • Crayfish and pork sausage
  • Andouille sausage
  • Cornish game hens
  • Mixed mushrooms, oyster and shitake varieties.

Now, Colin and I have been experimenting in southern cooking. On Sunday Colin made crab cakes and corn relish for dinner (Commander's kitchen "Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with Sweet Corn and Jalapenos", pg 196). The tomatoes and green peppers were bought to combine with okra for "sauteed okra vegetable dish" (Joy of Cooking 1975 edition, pg 311). We cooked the okra dish this evening with a couple of browned chicken drumsticks thrown in. The results was a tasty one pan meal. The Andouille and Mushrooms were purchased to combine with a whole frozen rabbit I got from Jake's Uptown Market to make rabbit gumbo for dinner this Friday.

Now, I am afraid that I am going to have to get socio-economic on your asses. I am sure that all the Chicagoans out there have heard of "food desert"areas where there are few if any grocery stores. This is a major problem in post Katrina New Orleans, when many chain grocery stores closed locations, rendering access to fresh fruits and vegetables significantly more difficult than it ought to be. In Chicago, a fabulous report on food deserts exists (as PDF). From that report I have borrowed this food desert concept:

distance to any grocer/ distance to any fast food restaurant = food balance

if food balance is:
  • greater than 1, more fast food than grocers
  • equal to 1, equal distance to grocers and fast food chains
  • less than 1, less distance to grocers than to fast food

If we assume (Note: this is super simplified) that the closer a person is to a grocery store than the better their diet is, then food deserts are a major area of concern for preventive health care problems like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Here is a map of food access in New Orleans. If you type in our zip code, 70118, and look at the number of grocery stores of any type, then you can see how few stores in our whole zip code are available to buy fresh food from. This is particularly disturbing if you note that Shell gas stations and Walgreen's/Rite Aids are considered "small food stores". Colin and I think that only three of those "small grocery stores" actually carry fresh food (ie. are not quickie marts). We usually go down to Tchoupitoulas and Jefferson or Tchoupitoulas and Napolean for our major food shopping. Its appalling that not a single large grocery store exists in our entire zip code, and only three places have fresh ingredients for sale.

Thank god for the Tuesday market.

3 Comments:

Blogger Jennifer said...

"Now, I am afraid that I am going to have to get socio-economic on your asses."

I needed that; it never occurred to me that access to food might still be such a significan problem down there. I'm never going to complain about the Co-Op or Village Foods again.

July 11, 2007 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I am also having problems typing today--I meant "significant problem." Whoops.

July 11, 2007 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger Nora said...

I know, I never thought I would bless the Co-op, I was thinking of that myself, since I hate that place...

July 11, 2007 at 3:57 PM  

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