Catalogue


Closing the food gap : resetting the table in the land of plenty /
Mark Winne.
imprint
Boston : Beacon Press, c2008.
description
xxii, 199 p. ; 23 cm.
ISBN
0807047309, 9780807047309
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Boston : Beacon Press, c2008.
isbn
0807047309
9780807047309
contents note
Introduction : I've come to-- shop? -- Suburbia, environmentalism, and the early gurglings of the food movement -- Reagan, hunger, and the rise of food banks -- Farmer's markets : bringing food to the people -- Community gardens : growing our own -- Food banks : waste not, want not -- Re-storing America's food deserts -- Growing obese and diabetic : going local and organic -- Community supported agriculture : communities find the way -- Public policy : food for the people -- Income disparities, poverty, and the food gap -- Conclusion : resetting America's table.
catalogue key
6343003
 
Includes bibliographical references.
A Look Inside
First Chapter
Introduction
I’ve Come to . . . Shop?

 
To enter the parking lot of any Hartford, Connecticut, supermarket in 1979 required a sharp, reckless turn into a poorly marked curb cut. If you came at it too fast to avoid a collision with the suicidal driver heading right at you, you would bottom out your car’s undercarriage on the lot’s steeply graded entrance. Once in the lot, Hollywood car-chase skills were essential to maneuver across a parking area that was strewn with broken glass, overturned shopping carts, and potholes deep enough to conceal a bushel basket. Since the white lines marking parking spaces were faded or nonexistent, you left your car wherever it suited you.
 
Once you got inside the store, the first thing you noticed was the smell. It wasn’t so much that “something has died” odor, but more the scent of something that rotted and was never fully cleaned up. When seasoned with a pinch of filth, marinated in gallons of heavily chlorinated disinfectant, and allowed to ferment over many years, the store released a heady aroma that brought tears to the eyes of men stronger than I.
 
Crunchy sounds emanated from the floor as your shoes crushed imperceptible bits of grit and unswept residue whose origins had long since been forgotten. The black and white floor tiles were discolored, unwaxed, and marred at irregular intervals by jagged brown stains that were forever one with the tiles.
 
Granted, these were pre–Whole Foods Market days. The supermarket industry did not yet have the technology that gives today’s stores the soft, warm glow of a tastefully decorated living room. Instead, the humming neon bulbs, shielded by yellowed plastic coverings, cast a sickly pallor over the shoppers, the staff, and, worst of all, the food. The iceberg lettuce, already suffering from a 3,000-mile journey by truck, looked like the victims of a mass beheading. The rest of the produce case, from mushy apples to brown bananas, displayed a similar lack of life. A stroll down the meat aisle was as appealing as a slaughterhouse tour at the end of a busy day. Small pools of blood that had leaked from hamburger and chicken packages dotted the surfaces of the white enamel meat cases, the blood at times indistinguishable from the rust that discolored the chipped veneer. The atmosphere did not encourage a leisurely appreciation of food, nor did you feel like engaging in more intimate acts of product selection such as touching, squeezing, or sniffing. The fear of prolonging the unpleasantness made “grab and go” the prevailing modus operandi.
 
It didn’t take too many trips to this sort of market before I was suffciently motivated to go to a suburban grocery store. I was lucky; I owned a working automobile. Up to 60 percent of the residents in Hartford’s lowincome neighborhoods did not. Nor, as I would find out later, did the city’s public transportation routes go to the suburban supermarkets.
 
My journey to the nearest full-size chain supermarket was six miles roundtrip. The store had easy vehicular access and a large, wellmaintained parking lot, as well as shiny, clean aisles, floors, and food cases. The floor space available for product display was at least twice that of the largest remaining Hartford store, and the products were pleasantly arrayed. The produce section, though not brimming with abundance by today’s standards, was quite ample and free of wilt, anemia, and other symptoms of imminent death. The store’s staff was reasonably friendly, albeit prone to the lassitude common among those who must do repetitive, low-paying work. At least they would help me locate hard-to-find items; those requests were usually greeted with hostile stares by workers at the city stores.
 
Besides offering a generally more inspiring shopping environment, the suburban store had another point in its favor: it was cheaper. While not every item in the suburban store was priced lower than in the city stores, I soon found that I was probably spending 10 to 15 percent less for my weekly grocery shopping than I had been in Hartford. This proved to be true even for chains that still operated stores in both the city and the suburbs: the suburban unit had lower prices than its city cousin. How could this be? I wondered. The chain bought from the same wholesale suppliers, the stores had roughly the same pay and staffing structures, and they were only a few miles apart.
 
As it turned out, my revelations as a new resident of Hartford elicited not much more than a knowing sigh from colleagues and neighbors. The fact that city stores were inferior to suburban ones was nothing new to them. They had been watching the slow but steady abandonment of the city by supermarkets for ten years. “Yes,” I was told on many occasions during my first year in the city, “the supermarkets have abandoned Hartford, and the poor, who can’t get to the suburbs, pay more.” “Supermarket abandonment” and “the poor pay more” became part of the lexicon of the organization I had come to lead, the Hartford Food System, and for many years to come, this prevailing understanding defined the food gap.
 
Welcome to Hartford, Connecticut
 
I knew little of Hartford prior to my decision to take a job as the executive director of the Hartford Food System in 1979. Trips from my home in New Jersey to attend college in Maine a few years earlier had taken me along newly opened stretches of interstate highway that bypassed the city so efficiently that any thought of a stopover was strongly discouraged. I knew I had crossed a second river that wasn’t the Hudson. The Tappan Zee Bridge’s broad reach left no doubt that you had crossed that renowned waterway. But the highway bridge that led from Hartford to East Hartford over the Connecticut River had been designed to keep the river’s existence a secret. Views of its gentle, tree-lined banks appeared to have been officially denied. After all, road engineers back then were not rewarded for their ability to incorporate natural features into highway designs but for their ability to pave the most territory for the least cost.
 
My first day of work in Hartford brought me into intimate contact with a city that had previously been placed off limits to the casual traveler. A car tour took me down long, wide boulevards intersected by neighborhood side streets that, on that chilly February day, were empty of all human activity except the occasional homeless man drawing life from a brown paper bag. Three-story brick buildings of late-nineteenth-century vintage gave many of the streets a graceful symmetry, although I noticed that several buildings had broken windows or plywood nailed over all the openings. Known as “perfect sixes,” these buildings were evenly divided into six apartment units and were common both just north and just south of the city’s downtown.
 
Crossing over I-84 from Hartford’s Northend, I entered the city’s downtown business district, still a fairly vital place in 1979. It was filled with bustling pedestrian traffic headed to and from corporate office buildings and signature sandstone department stores. The world famous insurance industry was a driving force, with buildings sporting the companies’ tastefully understated logos: the Travelers’ red umbrella, the Hartford’s twelve-point stag (orhart,as inhart ford,the place along the river where the deer crossed), and Aetna’s mountain.
 
Among the many things I would learn about the city’s corporate culture was that Aetna was deferentially referred to as “Mother Aetna” for its oversized nurturing presence. The reality was that these insurance giants not only dominated the cityscape physically but controlled the city’s financial, social, and cultural life as well. Though commanding in their presence, they eschewed the kind of entrepreneurial brashness of today’s Donald Trumps and Steve Jobses in preference for a more button-down, paternalistic ethos befitting their high-toned Yankee origins. After all, they labored under the long-dead but still ironic gaze of Mark Twain, Wallace Stevens, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, who had burnished the city during its golden era.
 
Hartford’s Southend had the feel of Boston’s North End, with an abundance of Italian immigrants and foods and the kind of vibrancy that you wouldn’t expect from the uptown actuarial crowd. Wood-frame houses built in the 1920s lined the streets, some of which were still graced with elegant shade trees, whose generous canopies would later provide a welcome respite from the summer’s heat and humidity. In those months, old men leaning on canes would huddle together on street corners and in cafés holding fast to the customs of Italian village life, minus perhaps the public consumption of grappa. The non-Italian speaker had virtually no hope of finding his way into this closed brotherhood.
 
The older Italian families in the Southend, like the African Americans in the Northend and the Puerto Ricans in between, were now the predominant faces in a city that was moving rapidly from white to brown and black. Hartford’s civil disturbances (aka race riots) of the late 1960s had signaled the demographic ascendance of the city’s black and Hispanic communities and the steady exodus of its remaining white residents. Similarly, the movement of Puerto Ricans into the Southend—they had come to the area in the 1940s and 1950s to pick tobacco—provoked an uneasy reaction among the younger Italian families, whose trickle to the suburbs was becoming a steady stream.
 
The nearby suburbs of Wethersfield, West Hartford, and Bloomfield beckoned. Increasingly, they were viewed as safe havens for Hartford’s middle-class residents, who were growing uneasy with the city’s changing complexion and growing number of lower-income households. Housing prices in the suburbs were still relatively low, the shaded streets were virtually crime-free, and the commuter ride to Hartford’s central business district was comparatively short. Perhaps most important, the suburbs’ public schools were excellent, which is usually one of the important criteria for any young family in selecting a community to live in.
 
What my windshield tour of the city revealed on my first day of work was the early but undeniable signs of a city in decline. It was a place whose natural chemistry had worked tolerably well for a hundred years or more but had been thrown too rapidly out of balance now that circumstances were changing. Middle-class flight, aided in part by America’s car culture and the emergence of the interstate highway system, left behind a giant sucking sound in urban cores across the country. Like the surf crashing against a beach then draining seaward again, middle-class families rode a tide of fear, disorientation, and resentment as they escaped to the suburbs. Sometimes with an undertone of racism and sometimes with an aching kind of liberal guilt, most white families, and later middle-class Hispanic and African American families, left the city when their resources permitted.
 
There was a strong personal dimension to these social and economic circumstances as well. As someone who had moved to Hartford to run a social change organization, I was expected not only to talk the talk but also to walk the walk. The moral burden that I had willingly accepted was that I should live in and be a part of the community that I was there to assist. To commute to Hartford from the suburbs—to be a nine-to-five dogooder— was frowned upon and in some cases explicitly forbidden. To onlyparticipatein social action had a lower status than to becommittedto the same. Think ham and eggs: the hen participates, but the pig is committed.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2009-02-01:
A common and fair criticism of the alternative food system is that local, healthy, sustainable food is for those who can afford it. Winne (independent scholar) answers that criticism by exploring promising practices and recommending policies that take class and access into consideration in providing good food for all. Winne had a long tenure as executive director of the Hartford Food System in Connecticut, and he merges his professional experiences with a broader history and overview of the emergency food system in the US before detailing his recommendations, namely, to shift the focus of the problem from hunger to poverty, integrate assistance programs, and change a food system that is racist, classist, and sexist. Winne has a scholar's mind but writes as a practitioner, which makes for an engaging read. Scholars may be frustrated with the thin endnotes and penchant for anecdotal evidence. This book is a useful, needed update to Janet Poppendieck's Sweet Charity?: Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement (1998), and a class-conscious complement to Patricia Allen's Together at the Table: Sustainability and Sustenance in the American Agrifood System (CH, Jun'95, 42-5973). Summing Up: Recommended. General readers; academic audiences, upper-division undergraduate and up; professionals. J. M. Deutsch CUNY Kingsborough Community College
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2007-10-08:
Having been a part of the movement since the 1970s, serving as (among other positions) the executive director of the Hartford Food System, Winne has an insider's view on what it's like to feed our country's hungry citizens. Through the lens of Hartford, Conn.-a quintessential "inner city" bereft of decent food options apart from bodegas and fast food chains-he explains the successes he witnessed and helped to create: community gardens, inner city farmers' markets and youth-run urban farms. Winne concludes his tale in our present food-crazed era, giving voice to low-income shoppers and exploring where they fit in with such foodie discussions as local vs. organic. In this articulate and comprehensive book, Winne points out that the greatest successes have been "an informal alliance between sustainable agriculture and food security advocates... that shows promise for helping both the poor and small and medium-size farmers." For the most part it is a calm, well-reasoned and soft-spoken call to arms to fight for policy reform, rather than fill in, with community-based projects and privately funded programs, the gaps left by our city and state legislators. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 2007-11-01:
"Nearly every urban community in America, and countless rural areas as well, has confronted the failure of the retail food industry to adequately serve its citizens." From Winne's own experience as executive director of the Hartford Food System in Connecticut, he writes about the lack of options for many elderly and poor people in the United States. He discusses strategies tried by numerous communities to combat this problem-e.g., farmers' markets, community gardens, food pantries-pointing out where, why, and the various ways in which these strategies have managed to fail or succeed. Chapter content ranges from largely factual accounts of various food-systems projects to memoirlike accounts of the author's experiences in Hartford and elsewhere. The book closes with a call to action to "re-store America's food deserts" by looking at the larger picture rather than focusing too narrowly on one aspect of the problem. More suitable for academic readers than general audiences; recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-Mindy Rhiger, Minneapolis (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"articulate and comprehensive...a calm, well-reasoned and soft-spoken call to arms"
"articulate and comprehensive...a calm, well-reasoned and soft-spoken call to arms" Publishers Weekly "Worthy fare." Kirkus Reviews
"articulate and comprehensivehellip;a calm, well-reasoned and soft-spoken call to arms"
"Reading this book should make everyone want to advocate for food systems that will feed the hungry, support local farmers, and promote community democracy-all at the same time. " -Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, and author of Food Politics and What to Eat"Winne tackles the world of food deserts, hunger relief, and the disparities of the 'haves' and 'have-nots' from both a personal and professional viewpoint that at once educates on and illuminates these very complicated issues, making them and their interrelationships not only understandable but also compelling for all those who care about social justice in our country." -Chef Ann Cooper, author of Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children"Winne has done it all-food coops, emergency feeding, farmers' markets, community gardening, Community Supported Agriculture, public policy. He tells us why and how, weaving into his own experiences stories from other cities across the country to create an essential picture of how people like him are struggling to reset the country's table for everyone." -Joan Dye Gussow, author of This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader"Closing the Food Gap reveals the chasm between the two food systems of America-the one for the poor and the one for everyone else. Mark Winne offers compelling solutions for making local, organic, and highly nutritious food available to everyone. It's heartening to find a book that successfully blends a passion for sustainable living with compassion for the poor." -Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of thhe Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace
"Reading this book should make everyone want to advocate for food systems that will feed the hungry, support local farmers, and promote community democracyall at the same time. "Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, and author of Food Politics and What to Eat "Winne tackles the world of food deserts, hunger relief, and the disparities of the 'haves' and 'have-nots' from both a personal and professional viewpoint that at once educates on and illuminates these very complicated issues, making them and their interrelationships not only understandable but also compelling for all those who care about social justice in our country."Chef Ann Cooper, author of Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children "Winne has done it allfood coops, emergency feeding, farmers' markets, community gardening, Community Supported Agriculture, public policy. He tells us why and how, weaving into his own experiences stories from other cities across the country to create an essential picture of how people like him are struggling to reset the country's table for everyone."Joan Dye Gussow, author of This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader " Closing the Food Gap reveals the chasm between the two food systems of Americathe one for the poor and the one for everyone else. Mark Winne offers compelling solutions for making local, organic, and highly nutritious food available to everyone. It's heartening to find a book that successfully blends a passion for sustainable living with compassion for the poor."Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of thhe Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace "By combining stories of his deep personal experience as an activist with keen insight into strategies for addressing food injustice, Winne fills a gap in the growing literature on good food, why it matters, and how to ensure everyone everywhere has access to it. Plus, the book is a fun read. Winne's stories made me want to meet him down at the local farmers' market, and then join him afterward for a cold beer."Anna Lappe, co-founder of the Small Planet Institute and author of Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen "Winne's passion for justice and commitment to sustainability make this book essential reading for those who want to help make the vision of healthy abundance for all an American dream come true."Janet Poppendieck, author of Sweet Charity?
"Worthy fare."
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, October 2007
Library Journal, November 2007
Booklist, December 2007
Choice, February 2009
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
'Closing the Food Gap' tells the story of how America's food gap has widened since the 1960s when domestic poverty was 'rediscovered', and how communities have responded with a slew of strategies and methods to narrow the gap.
Long Description
From the War on Poverty to new farmers' markets, a food expert tackles America's dangerous dietary split Limp lettuce. Rotting apples. Dusty cans of spinach, corn, and peas under glaring fluorescent lights. Such a setting does not appeal to the modern shopper, who much prefers softly lit stores stocked with fresh produce and healthy prepared meals, or even open-air markets. But for many impoverished Americans, as Mark Winne explains, such pleasant shopping experiences are simply not an option. Closing the Food Gap tells the story of how we get our food: from poor people at food pantries or bodegas and convenience stores to the more comfortable classes, who increasingly seek out organic and local products. Winne's exploration starts in the 1960s, when domestic poverty was "rediscovered," and shows how communities since that time have responded to malnutrition with a slew of strategies and methods. But the story is also about doing that work against a backdrop of ever-growing American food affluence and gastronomical expectations. Calling largely on his own experience in this field, mixing in surprisingly witty observations on our evolving relationships with food, Winne ultimately envisions realistic partnerships in which family farms and impoverished communities come together to address their continuing struggles. "Closing the Food Gap reveals the chasm between the two food systems of America--the one for the poor and the one for everyone else. Speaking from his decades of political activism, Mark Winne offers compelling solutions for making local, organic, and highly nutritious food available to everyone. It's heartening to find a book that successfully blends a passionfor sustainable living with compassion for the poor." --Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder--the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace "An engaging, candid, and sometimes funny look at how ordinary people--and extraordinary ones like the author--have struggled over three plus decades to create a fair food system, in the absence of public sector compassion. Winne has done it all--food coops, emergency feeding, farmers' markets, community gardening, Community Supported Agriculture, public policy. He tells us why and how, weaving into his own experiences stories from other cities across the country to create an essential picture of how people like him are struggling to reset the country's table for everyone." --Joan Dye Gussow, author of This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader "By combining stories of his deep personal experience as an activist with keen insight into strategies for addressing food injustice, Winne himself fills a gap in the growing literature on good food, why it matters, and how to ensure everyone everywhere has access to it. Plus, the book is a fun read. Winne's stories made me want to meet him down at the local farmer's market, and then join him afterward for a cold beer." --Anna Lappe, co-founder of the Small Planet Institute and author of Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen "Closing the Food Gap is a deeply moving account of Mark Winne's long career as an advocate for policies that will ensure adequate nutrition for the poor. Reading this book should make everyone want to advocate for food systems that will feed the hungry, support local farmers, and promote community democracy--all at the same time. I want all mystudents to read this beautifully written and important book." --Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, and author of Food Politics and What to Eat "Mark Winne tackles the world of food deserts, hunger relief and the disparities of the 'haves' and 'have-nots' from both a personal and professional viewpoint that at once educates on and illuminates these very complicated issues. Winne makes these issues and their interrelationships not only understandable but also compelling for all those wh
Main Description
In Closing the Food Gap , food activist and journalist Mark Winne poses questions too often overlooked in our current conversations around food: What about those people who are not financially able to make conscientious choices about where and how to get food? And in a time of rising rates of both diabetes and obesity, what can we do to make healthier foods available for everyone? To address these questions, Winne tells the story of how America's food gap has widened since the 1960s, when domestic poverty was "rediscovered," and how communities have responded with a slew of strategies and methods to narrow the gap, including community gardens, food banks, and farmers' markets. The story, however, is not only about hunger in the land of plenty and the organized efforts to reduce it; it is also about doing that work against a backdrop of ever-growing American food affluence and gastronomical expectations. With the popularity of Whole Foods and increasingly common community-supported agriculture (CSA), wherein subscribers pay a farm so they can have fresh produce regularly, the demand for fresh food is rising in one population as fast as rates of obesity and diabetes are rising in another. Over the last three decades, Winne has found a way to connect impoverished communities experiencing these health problems with the benefits of CSAs and farmers' markets; in Closing the Food Gap , he explains how he came to his conclusions. With tragically comic stories from his many years running a model food organization, the Hartford Food System in Connecticut, alongside fascinating profiles of activists and organizations in communities across the country, Winne addresses head-on the struggles to improve food access for all of us, regardless of income level. Using anecdotal evidence and a smart look at both local and national policies, Winne offers a realistic vision for getting locally produced, healthy food onto everyone's table.
Main Description
In Closing the Food Gap, food activist and journalist Mark Winne poses questions too often overlooked in our current conversations around food: What about those people who are not financially able to make conscientious choices about where and how to get food? And in a time of rising rates of both diabetes and obesity, what can we do to make healthier foods available for everyone?To address these questions, Winne tells the story of how America's food gap has widened since the 1960s, when domestic poverty was "rediscovered," and how communities have responded with a slew of strategies and methods to narrow the gap, including community gardens, food banks, and farmers' markets. The story, however, is not only about hunger in the land of plenty and the organized efforts to reduce it; it is also about doing that work against a backdrop of ever-growing American food affluence and gastronomical expectations. With the popularity of Whole Foods and increasingly common community-supported agriculture (CSA), wherein subscribers pay a farm so they can have fresh produce regularly, the demand for fresh food is rising in one population as fast as rates of obesity and diabetes are rising in another.Over the last three decades, Winne has found a way to connect impoverished communities experiencing these health problems with the benefits of CSAs and farmers' markets; in Closing the Food Gap, he explains how he came to his conclusions. With tragically comic stories from his many years running a model food organization, the Hartford Food System in Connecticut, alongside fascinating profiles of activists and organizations in communities across the country, Winne addresses head-on the struggles to improve food access for all of us, regardless of income level.Using anecdotal evidence and a smart look at both local and national policies, Winne offers a realistic vision for getting locally produced, healthy food onto everyone's table.
Table of Contents
Introduction: I've Come to...Shop?p. xi
The History
Suburbia, Environmentalism, and the Early Gurglings of the Food Movementp. 3
Reagan, Hunger, and the Rise of Food Banksp. 21
The Reactions
Farmers' Markets: Bringing Food to the Peoplep. 37
Community Gardens: Growing Our Ownp. 50
Food Banks: Waste Not, Want Notp. 69
The Current Landscape
Re-Storing America's Food Desertsp. 85
Growing Obese and Diabetic; Going Local and Organicp. 110
Community Supported Agriculture: Communities Find the Wayp. 137
Public Policy: Food for the Peoplep. 149
Income Disparities, Poverty, and the Food Gapp. 173
Conclusion: Resetting America's Tablep. 183
A Note on Sourcesp. 195
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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