Food and Nutrition


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What You Need to Know About Food "Deserts"

A food desert is a geographic area where there is no access to fresh, whole foods. Most commonly the only available food is found in convenience stores and is generally highly processed with low nutrient value. In urban areas this means fresh, healthy food is not available within a one mile radius, and for rural areas within a ten mile radius. Access to healthy food is especially acute in low-income and rural areas according to the social indicators website North Dakota Compass.

To tackle this problem, there are a number of resources available to local community leaders. Kansas State University began the Rural Grocery Initiative to provide resources for local grocers. In North Dakota, look for the Hunger Free garden project for a way to give away your extra garden produce to low income people in your community. And use the North Dakota Farmers Market Association to find a farmers market near you as well as resources to start a farmers market of your own.

Demand for local food in rural communities is growing. Sustainable local food systems need to have strong community support to build and maintain the infrastructure needed to bring food from farm to fork. This website provides resources to support rural communities just beginning to build their community food systems as well as those whose local food systems are already strong. Resources are intended for farmers and producers, community organizations, and Extension Educators but may interest anyone in community and local foods. While this website was a partnership between Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, most resources are applicable for any rural community.

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