On food deserts–and beer!

According to the CDC, “food deserts” are areas that “lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk, and other foods that make up the full range of a healthy diet.” If this seems like an alien concept in overfed America, consider the recent Shreveport Times article that estimated 1/3 of Shreveporters to be living in a food desert. (Do yourself a favor, though, and don’t read the comments on that link–especially if you’re sensitive to racism, classism, and general douche-ism.)

Living on a low income in a car-dependent city like Shreveport makes it hard to get to a decent grocery store. Even if you make it to the store, higher-quality food means a higher price (though there are exceptions), and many people don’t have the culinary knowledge to prepare fresh produce, beans, or meat in a nutritionally sound way. This may be a moot point, though, as many grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods have abysmal selections of healthy food–the fresh, less-processed items located on the perimeter of the store. Until Steve Casey deploys a fleet of his Peace Prize-worthy Fresh Moves buses to the South, food deserts are here to stay. In a small community like ours, it’s likely that you regularly interact with someone who lives in a food desert–or that you live in one yourself.

Like it or not, food is political. It’s polarizing, but it also has the power to bring us together and equalize us. If you have a psych background, you know that Abraham Maslow put food at the base of our hierarchy of needs. It’s what we need before we can go on to solve even our most rudimentary problems. Strip our culture out of its man-made, 21st-century trappings, and our day-to-day goals are exactly the same as any other animal’s. Find food. Stay healthy. Keep going.

If you haven’t yet heard of Slow Food North Louisiana (or, on a larger scale, the global slow food movement), consider participating in their upcoming $5 Meal Challenge. The premise is simple: prepare a tasty, nutritious meal that can serve a family of 4 or more for $5 or less per person. Bring the dish and your grocery receipt to Camp Forbing on September 17 at noon. “Challenge the popular belief that it is more expensive and more time consuming to eat food that is good, clean and healthy than food that is fast and processed.”

More information here: http://www.slowfoodnla.com/event

How about another great equalizer? Beer! I’m not sure what it is about fermented, fragrant, wheat-based drinks that seems to turn enemies into friends, but there it is. The world could use more friends. Shreveport Brew, our fair city’s annual beer-tasting extravaganza, is coming up on October 15. Tickets are already on sale, and a sellout is anticipated. Drinking on an empty stomach, however, is not recommended. With that in mind, several local restaurants will be on hand, dishing out sample-sized portions of some of their best-loved dishes to sop up all of that hoppy goodness. A $50 ticket gives you full run of the beer and food. Best of all, no kids allowed! This is a major selling point for me. Not that I’m some kind of evil kid-hater, of course, but sometimes people don’t exercise very good judgment when it comes to appropriate nights out with the ankle-biters. That’s all I’m saying about that.

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4 responses to “On food deserts–and beer!

  1. Sally

    Glad you’re back!

  2. Over the weekend I had (the perfect cups of) coffee at Columbia Cafe, ate dinner and watched the LSU game at Zocolo (fantastic filet app & pork loin entre – nice bread pudding dessert, too), and had a late Sunday lunch at Danh’s (peanut chicken – a favorite of mine on that menu).

    I thought to myself last night that I should start a Shreveport food blog like the Cajun Foodie or http://www.blackenedout.com/ . . . but to my surprise you’ve already got a great one going – found it today. Keep it up and let me know if you need any companions to tag along (and be judgmental).

    My tagline was going to be “a different local restaurant every week . . . till the money runs out.”

    Great to see a fellow Shreveporter avoiding chain restaurants – next on my “to do” list is the new place that just opened at the corner of Marshall and Lake Street.

    Cheers,

    Josh Clayton

    • Columbia has great coffee, don’t they? The owner roasts the beans himself. Have you been to Danh’s Deli Express on Barksdale Boulevard yet? I had a bowl of beef pho there yesterday that almost made my eyes roll back in my head. Their specialty is the banh mi, a traditional Vietnamese sandwich served on a crispy-crusted, plush hoagie roll made from rice flour.

      Thank you for your kind words. Savoring Shreveport is the first local blog devoted to restaurant reviews, but it’s no longer the only one. I won’t link to the others (for obvious reasons), but you can find them if you do a thorough enough Google search. I moved here in 2009 from Tampa, and I was disappointed to see the lack of honest coverage of our little food scene–especially in a state widely regarded as one of the best food regions in the country. So many of the food articles in local newspapers and magazines are nothing more than glorified ads written under the guise of “serious journalism.” It’s refreshing to see people start to catch on and want to get the truth for themselves. There’s no monopoly on local food blogs, so feel free to start your own–especially if you have a unique concept for it. It’s a free Internet!

      I always welcome judgmental dining companions (as long as I’m not cooking for them). I’ll let you know if I’m ever in need of help!

      Thanks again. I love getting feedback.

      Alex

      • I have not been to Danh’s new spot on Barksdale but he tells me those sandwiches are the DEAL so I’ll have to try one.

        Was in new orleans this past week: went to Cafe Abyssinia (Ethiopian place on magazine) and Dante’s Kitchen (where Dante Street meets the river). Amazing – there will be return trips to both spots in the coming months.

        At Dante’s — don’t get the peach-almond tart (cobbler-esque) dessert – it’s the only disappointment of the evening. Served a la mode with fantastic gelato, the tart had been sitting out and I don’t even think they bothered to microwave it before serving us. Heavily crusted and you couldn’t get enough peach flavor to overcome the bready crust. The blackberry cobbler that I ate after my thursday lunch at Joe’s Dreyfus Restaurant in Livonia put Dante’s dessert to shame.

        Per the Dante’s Kitchen waiter, we should have opted for the coconut flan.

        Every small plate (scallops) & app (pot likka, charcuterie) was amazing. we split an entree of “chicken roasted under a brick” . . . and WOW.

        Can’t wait to go back.

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