Thursday, June 10, 2010
The Food Desert situation
This is a video from LAANE about two women swapping neighborhoods for a day to find out about each other's access to healthy and fresh foods. One woman is from the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles, the other is from Santa Monica. Guess who has access to the better fruits and vegetables, including organics? Of course, the lady who normally lives in Santa Monica. In the barrio environment of Boyle Heights, fruits and veggies are hard to find, poor quality and expensive. And in Santa Monica, they are plentiful, they are accessible, and if you spend a little more you can get organics.
Where are we here in Panorama City? We aren't a food desert, that's for sure. We have a lovely Food 4 Less, and right behind it is El Super. Food 4 Less has a lot of the standard groceries we rely on day-to-day, plus a good meat department that has proven to be reliable over the decades. El Super is best for a really amazing produce department, plus one of the best bakeries in town. We also have Latino and Filipino specialty markets: Vallarta, El Pueblo, Seafood City and Island Pacific. However: we don't really have a place to get organic groceries. You can find organics occasionally at Food 4 Less, and even occasionally at the 99 Cent Only store (we've got one on the Panorama City side of Woodman) but no place that's consistent. We also have the empty hulk of the old Valley Food Warehouse which closed years and years ago, and is still vacant.
We need either a Trader Joe's or a Fresh and Easy to move in to the old Valley Food Warehouse space and give our neighborhood access to good quality food at low prices. Why should Granada Hills and Sherman Oaks have all the fun?
And another thing: we do have a whole lot of fast food places, two family restaurants (IHOP and Coco's) and a Hometown Buffet, but no really good sit down restaurants. People have nostalgia for places like the Red Barn and Phil Ahn's Moongate around here. We really don't have their like anywhere around here anymore. There is room for a nice restaurant people can take visiting family to and feel good about. I would think a high-end Mexican restaurant, something equal to El Cholo or Ciudad, probably could work here. Hello Hot Tamales...visit us here in Panorama City and we'll make you feel at home.
We are lucky here. We've still got a good food infrastructure here. But we could improve things. And people in less blessed areas need some major help. LAANC is suggesting City Council action on this. I don't know how helpful that would be. But something must be done to get fresh food to less privileged neighborhoods. We can pay now, by investing in these underserved areas, or pay later in the form of more expenditures on health care and disability.