A Back to Basics Grocer

Ashley Xie

Ashley Xie

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Inside Mill Valley General Store, Baltimore Md.

Inside Mill Valley General Store, Baltimore Md.

Over the summer of 2016, CLF’s Map Team interns visited every known food store in Baltimore City to collect data for the Healthy Food Availability Index (HFAI)—but they also took time to interview some of the store owners and learn about their challenges and successes. Here’s the third of those stories. 

Tucked away in the Baltimore neighborhood known as Remington, in what used to be a broom machine factory, the Mill Valley General Store is a modest, unassuming brick storefront just off the I-83 exit ramp. What started as a small shop in Hampden in 2002 has become a spacious neighborhood grocery store and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) pickup site. Read More >

Is WIC an Option for Corner Stores?

Bengucan Gunen

Bengucan Gunen

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Ashley talks with some some people at Linden Market.

Over the summer of 2016, CLF’s Map Team interns visited every known food store in Baltimore City to collect data for the Healthy Food Availability Index (HFAI)—but they also took time to interview some of the store owners and learn about their challenges and successes. Here’s the second of those stories. 

Of the approximately 621,000 people living in Baltimore, 25 percent live in food deserts. Within the span of three months, my HFAI team visited roughly 1,000 food retail outlets in Baltimore. We went into corner stores, small groceries, supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies, visiting between 60 and 90 stores every week. Read More >

The Impact of Fresh Food in Corner Stores

Meredith Stifter

Meredith Stifter

Research Assistant

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Over the summer of 2016, CLF’s Map Team interns visited every known food store in Baltimore City to collect data for the Healthy Food Availability Index (HFAI)—but they also took time to interview some of the store owners and learn about their challenges and successes. Here’s the first of those stories. 

This summer my fellow CLF interns and I visited every food store in the city, from tiny gas stations selling only peanuts and soda, to organic supermarkets selling sustainable grasshopper flour desserts, to every corner store in between. In addition to the variety of data Read More >

China’s Changing Diet: Environment and Health Impacts

Becky Ramsing

Becky Ramsing

Senior Program Officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

In Part 1 of the China’s Changing Diet blog series, we provided an overview of the recent shifts in how Chinese citizens eat and live as a result of economic growth, urbanization and food availability. In the following section, we will discuss the local and global impacts of these shifts and how Chinese health experts have addressed these through the newly-revised Chinese Dietary Guidelines.

Diet changes have lasting impacts on health and the environment locally and globally

In China, the incidence of obesity and its related complications have increased rapidly alongside dietary changes. The overall prevalence of overweight and obesity among Chinese people was increased by 38.6% and 80.6% respectively during the period of 1992-2002.[i] In 2012, 30.1% of adults were overweight and 11.9% were obese. 9.6% of youth were overweight and 6.4% were obese.[ii] Taking into account the sheer size of China’s population, over one fifth of all one billion obese people in the world now come from China.[iii]

Read More >

Wasted Food and a New Spin on the 3 Rs

Erin Biehl

Erin Biehl

Senior Program Coordinator

Food System Sustainability and Public Health Program

World War I-era poster by the U.S. Food Administration

World War I-era poster by the U.S. Food Administration

This blogpost was co-written by Erin Biehl and Karen Banks.

For decades, we’ve heard the slogan: reduce, reuse, recycle. Those familiar “three Rs” are often represented by the well-recognized Mobius Loop, spinning infinitely on bins, packages, and bottles nationwide.

The three Rs and the symbol are intended to educate consumers about the waste hierarchy, which tells us that the prevention, reuse, and recycling of materials is far preferable to sending them to a landfill—and by some measures the campaign is working because recycling and composting have increased 500 percent since 1980 in the U.S. On the other hand, a considerable portion of the waste stream still eludes us: food. Each year, 52.4 million tons of food is thrown away in the U.S. That’s the equivalent of 1,200 USS Missouri battleships full of food. Another 10.1 million tons of food never make if off the farm field. Read More >

Community Food Assessments: A Wonderful Tool

Joyce Smith

Joyce Smith

Community Relations Coordinator

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

cfa-oroswWhen the Johns Hopkins Center for Livable Future (CLF) approached OROSW (Operation ReachOut SouthWest) with the idea of community food assessment study, we first had to figure out what a community food assessment, or CFA, is. Essentially, a CFA is a survey that researchers use to get a sense of how much food security or food insecurity a neighborhood is experiencing. We used it to survey people in the neighborhood and get their thoughts on food availability in southwest Baltimore.

We learned so much from the CFA findings. We found that not only are food deserts prevalent, but also that many residents travel outside Southwest Baltimore for their primary grocery shopping—to 29 different supermarkets and other food outlets. We learned that Read More >

Eating and Cooking in Madrid and Baltimore

Usama Bilal

Usama Bilal

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

2016-madrid-marketA friend from Madrid will be visiting us in Baltimore next week. He enjoys eating and cooking at home, so I’d like to have a few dishes prepared for the next days. But a few factors, namely my location, the fact that I don’t drive, and my partner being out of town, make me realize that it’s going to be hard to fulfill my intentions of preparing a few healthy and hearty meals.

This reminds me of my time living in downtown Madrid four years ago. I’d work very long hours during the week, so I usually only had time to do my grocery shopping on the weekends. On a typical Saturday morning, I usually headed to the food market, five minutes walking from my apartment, and circled the 20 stores that sell only fresh produce, looking for the best deals (living within a student budget!). If it were late spring or summer, I’d end up with five pounds of oranges, six pounds of tomatoes (for gazpacho!), a few veggies for miscellaneous cooking and some change left from my five-euro bill. Read More >

The Long Shadow of Redlining on the Food System

Usama Bilal

Usama Bilal

CLF-Lerner Fellow

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Last year Baltimore was shaken by an uprising that caught the nation and public officials off-guard. A good part of the conversation during the unrest revolved around issues of systemic and institutionalized racism. In response, the Johns Hopkins University started the 21st Century Cities Initiative; its first organized activity was a series of debates about “Redlining Baltimore.”

Back in the 1930s, as a part of the New Deal, a government sponsored program called the Homeowner Loan Corporation (HOLC) was created. This public agency helped the population finance home ownership through greatly subsidized loans. As part of its mission, the HOLC created maps that rated neighborhoods in terms of how the agency perceived each neighborhood’s investment risk. HOLC preferentially financed loans in neighborhoods deemed low-risk for investment. Read More >

Within Reason: Getting the Most from Urban Ag

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Boone Street Farm

Boone Street Farm, Baltimore

My teenaged daughter just asked me when our yard was going to look “nice” again. Inch by inch, I’ve been removing grass and replacing it with clover, herbs, milkweeds and some plants that I refer to, mostly ironically, as crops. She dislikes the rows of composting sod, the dying grass, and the soggy trenches that scream “work in progress.” “It’s so ugly,” she said. And then she cried. I had made The Classic Error—I didn’t get community buy-in on my gardening plans. Not only that, I am guilty of Error Number Two: I planted food that I enjoy— tomatillos, cilantro, sunchokes—but that my kids refuse to recognize as edible. Read More >

Ethical Procurement, It Ain’t Easy Being Green

Christine Grillo

Christine Grillo

Contributing Writer

Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future

Food service-4-01At the risk of dating myself, I’ll invoke the movie Chinatown, in which detective Jake Gittes uncovers a grand-scale conspiracy involving the control of water in Los Angeles, a city suffering with drought. The corruption is so thick that there’s no hope of cutting through it. The famous line? “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”

If Roman Polanski were to make a movie about the grand-scale conspiracy controlling what foods are purchased for hospitals, schools, and prisons … well, he wouldn’t. But if he did, our detective would uncover the near-nefariousness of the forces controlling what students eat for lunch, for example, or what hospital cafeterias serve. The movie—and let’s just give it the working title Aramark, as in “Forget it, Jake. It’s Aramark”—would introduce us to the seamy world in which food service companies like Sodexo, Aramark, and Compass Group use a byzantine system Read More >