Healthy Eating With Limited Access

04 Jul Healthy Eating With Limited Access

Numerous studies have shown that when communities have limited access to fresh foods, obesity and diabetes rates are higher. Although policy and decision makers must address the larger inequity that leaves many urban and rural communities without adequate access to fresh and healthy foods, there are things residents can do to help increase healthy eating.

1. Support a local farmers market in South Los Angeles. There’s the Adams/Vermont Farmers Market on Wednesdays, Central Avenue Farmers Market on Thursdays, Vermont Village Farmers Market on Fridays at the Crenshaw Christian Center and both the Crenshaw Farmers Market in Leimert Park and Watts Farmers Market at Ted Watkins Park on Saturdays. Search for a complete list of farmers markets in the L.A. area at

2. The South L.A.-based nonprofit Community Services Unlimited ( will delivery produce to your home via bicycle. It has cultivated pesticide-free urban farms in South L.A. and trains local youth to garden, harvest and sell produce in the community at an affordable price, usually below market value. You can eat fresh while supporting a local nonprofit.

3. Do you have neighbors with fruit trees? Chances are they have more than they can eat. Maybe there’s a favor you can trade for a bag of oranges?

4. Organize a car pool. Many residents don’t live near a quality grocery store or can’t drive to get to one. If you have access to transportation, consider helping someone who doesn’t.

5. Frozen fruits and vegetables are healthy choices too. Choose fresh produce first while shopping but take advantage of the benefits of frozen produce as well.

6. Even at 7-Eleven — not the ideal place to buy fruit — you can sometimes find apples, bananas and oranges. They are healthier choices than packaged and processed snacks.

7. If you have a yard, plant a fruit tree or two. Community Services Unlimited holds an annual Fruit Tree Giveaway and will even give you tree pruning lessons or come to your home to help you prune. You can also easily buy a tree at a local nursery or Home Depot for around $25.

8. Plant a small vegetable garden. Seeds cost very little. Knowing your food is pesticide-free and exactly where it comes from is invaluable. You can find seeds at Home Depot, local nurseries and even at the 99 Cents Store. Visit for tips on getting started.

9. Even in an apartment there are things you can grow. For example, tomato plants can be grown in a large pot or in an upside down tomato planter on a terrace, fire escape or patio.

10. The rooftop of an apartment building can also be used to grow food in pots or plant boxes. Lettuce grows well in boxes. A crate or box that’s at least a foot deep and filled with soil will work. Visit for tips.

Toni Ann Johnson is an award-winning screenwriter, author and activist in South L.A.

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