food

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Low-income areas of rural Oklahoma are blotched with food deserts, where fresh, healthy food options are scarce. It’s a problem in cities, too, but entrepreneurs, educators and legislators say newly signed legislation could help fill grocery gaps with community gardens.

School just let out at Walt Whitman Elementary in north Tulsa and a group of third and fifth graders is eager to brag about the garden they helped plant on a hillside behind the school.

The advice to eat a healthy diet is not new. Back around 400 B.C., Hippocrates, the Greek doctor, had this missive: Let food be thy medicine.

But as a society, we've got a long way to go. About 1 out of every 2 deaths from heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes in the U.S. is linked to a poor diet. That's about 1,000 deaths a day.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are epidemic in Oklahoma, and lack of access to fresh, healthy food is a big reason why. Scarcity is most severe in regions known as food deserts, where going to the grocery store often means taking a road trip. But new legislation awaiting the governor’s signature could bring more healthy food to areas that need it.

There's a small-scale charity movement starting to take hold in neighborhoods across the country. Think of those "little free library" boxes, but with a twist: These are small pantries stocked with free food and personal care items like toothbrushes and diapers for people in need.

They're found near churches, outside businesses and in front of homes. Maggie Ballard, who lives in Wichita, Kan., calls hers a "blessing box."

Rachel Hubbard / KOSU

The Oklahoma Food Security Summit is a place where local community leaders, nutritionists and food producers gather to talk about what is going well in Oklahoma and what needs work.  This year, several tribal leaders and agricultural producers came to Tulsa to participate including the Choctaw Nation with their mobile Aquaponics Unit. 

Earlier this month, Wal-Mart trumpeted that it had beaten a goal it set five years ago: to open at least 275 stores in food deserts by 2016. That targeted expansion into "neighborhoods without access to fresh affordable groceries" came as part of the retailer's "healthier food initiative," lauded by — and launched with — First Lady Michelle Obama in 2011.

Halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, there's an underground vault filled with seeds. It's sometimes called the "doomsday vault."

For the past seven years, scientists have been putting seeds into this vault, filling it with samples of the crops that people rely on for food.

Now, for the first time, they're about to bring some seeds back out.

School is still out for the summer, but at Eastern Senior High School in Washington, D.C., students are hard at work — outdoors.

In a garden filled with flowers and beds bursting with vegetables and herbs, nearly a dozen teenagers are harvesting vegetables for the weekend's farmers market.

Buy a jug of milk in the U.S. and, as long as it's in the fridge, you shouldn't have to worry about it spoiling for about three weeks.

That's quite a luxury. Because it's not the case in many other parts of the world where fresh milk has a much shorter shelf life.

Milk is highly perishable — a few hours out of the cow at room temperature, and bacteria, some of which cause disease, start to flourish.

Editor's note: A version of this story was first published Aug. 1, 2014.

When Leanne Brown moved to New York from Canada to earn a master's in food studies at New York University, she couldn't help noticing that Americans on a tight budget were eating a lot of processed foods heavy in carbs.

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