On March 20, Michelle Obama raised the stakes for locally-grown food by planting a vegetable garden on the White House lawn.
But for many Minneapolis residents, access to locally-grown food is not that simple. Phillips and Corcoran are among the neighborhoods currently enduring a massive, multi-year Superfund cleanup of arsenic contaminated soil, making vegetable gardens dangerous or impossible at hundreds of lawns along these diverse, mixed-income blocks.
“I’m waiting for my lawn to be replaced by the government, but in the meantime I have no place to grow my own vegetables,” says Corcoran resident Rachel Hefte. 200 yards have already been cleaned up, according to the United States EPA, while 500 more will receive soil replacement over the next two to three years.
The all-local Midtown Farmers’ Market brings environmental justice to its location at 2225 East Lake Street, on the shared border of Corcoran and East Phillips, both of which have endured previous industrial pollution, but now host the Twin Cities’ most accessible local food farmers’ market, and the first in Minnesota to accept EBT food stamps.
As the president and first lady plant the seeds of locally-grown food at the White House, and as Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak launches a Homegrown Minneapolis initiative, and as policy makers nationwide tackle the complex issues of health care reform and global warming in the context of economic recovery, thinkers like Michael Pollan are calling for investment in inner-city, local food farmers’ markets like Midtown.
In a recent interview with Mother Jones magazine, Pollan points out that industrial agricultural policy has led the United States to greater obesity and increasing carbon emissions, with “25 to 33 percent of climate change gases being traced to the food system,” while “anywhere you go and you see a permanently located farmers market you will find economic redevelopment.”
To learn more about the Midtown Farmers’ Market, please contact manager David Nicholson.