Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty

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Beacon Press, 2008 - Social Science - 199 pages
In Closing the Food Gap, food activist and journalist Mark Winne poses questions too often overlooked in our current conversations around food: What about those people who are not financially able to make conscientious choices about where and how to get food? And in a time of rising rates of both diabetes and obesity, what can we do to make healthier foods available for everyone?

To address these questions, Winne tells the story of how America’s food gap has widened since the 1960s, when domestic poverty was “rediscovered,” and how communities have responded with a slew of strategies and methods to narrow the gap, including community gardens, food banks, and farmers’ markets. The story, however, is not only about hunger in the land of plenty and the organized efforts to reduce it; it is also about doing that work against a backdrop of ever-growing American food affluence and gastronomical expectations. With the popularity of Whole Foods and increasingly common community-supported agriculture (CSA), wherein subscribers pay a farm so they can have fresh produce regularly, the demand for fresh food is rising in one population as fast as rates of obesity and diabetes are rising in another.

Over the last three decades, Winne has found a way to connect impoverished communities experiencing these health problems with the benefits of CSAs and farmers’ markets; in Closing the Food Gap, he explains how he came to his conclusions. With tragically comic stories from his many years running a model food organization, the Hartford Food System in Connecticut, alongside fascinating profiles of activists and organizations in communities across the country, Winne addresses head-on the struggles to improve food access for all of us, regardless of income level.

Using anecdotal evidence and a smart look at both local and national policies, Winne offers a realistic vision for getting locally produced, healthy food onto everyone’s table.

“Closing the Food Gap is a deeply moving account of Mark Winne’s long career as an advocate for policies that will ensure adequate nutrition for the poor. Reading this book should make everyone want to advocate for food systems that will feed the hungry, support local farmers, and promote community democracy—all at the same time. I want all my students to read this beautifully written and important book.” —Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, and author of Food Politics and What to Eat

“Mark Winne tackles the world of food deserts, hunger relief and the disparities of the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ from both a personal and professional viewpoint that at once educates on and illuminates these very complicated issues. Winne makes these issues and their interrelationships not only understandable but also compelling for all those who care about social justice in our country.” —Chef Ann Cooper, author of Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children

“An engaging, candid, and sometimes funny look at how ordinary people—and extraordinary ones like the author—have struggled over three plus decades to create a fair food system, in the absence of public sector compassion. Winne has done it all—food coops, emergency feeding, farmers’ markets, community gardening, Community Supported Agriculture, public policy. He tells us why and how, weaving into his own experiences stories from other cities across the country to create an essential picture of how people like him are struggling to reset the country’s table for everyone.” —Joan Dye Gussow, author of This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader

“Closing the Food Gap reveals the chasm between the two food systems of America—the one for the poor and the one for everyone else. Speaking from his decades of political activism, Mark Winne offers compelling solutions for making local, organic, and highly nutritious food available to everyone. It’s heartening to finnd a book that successfully blends a passion for sustainable living with compassion for the poor.” —Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder – the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace

“By combining stories of his deep personal experience as an activist with keen insight into strategies for addressing food injustice, Winne himself fills a gap in the growing literature on good food, why it matters, and how to ensure everyone everywhere has access to it. Plus, the book is a fun read. Winne's stories made me want to meet him down at the local farmer's market, and then join him afterward for a cold beer.” —Anna Lappé, co-founder of the Small Planet Institute and author of Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen

"Winne's passion for justice and commitment to sustainability make this book essential reading for those who want to help make the vision of healthy abundance for all an American dream come true." —Janet Poppendieck, authhor of Sweet Charity? Emergency Food and the End offfff Entitlement

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User Review  - wealhtheowwylfing - LibraryThing

Winne takes a look at America's food system, using his 35 years of experience as a worker in food banks, community gardens, farms, and policy-making boards. The basic problem is one of poverty. There ... Read full review

Closing the food gap: resetting the table in the land of plenty

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

"Nearly every urban community in America, and countless rural areas as well, has confronted the failure of the retail food industry to adequately serve its citizens." From Winne's own experience as ... Read full review



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About the author (2008)

For 25 years Mark Winne was the Executive Director of the Hartford Food System, a private non-profit agency that works on food and hunger issues in the Hartford, Connecticut area. During his tenure with HFS, Mark organized community self-help food projects that assisted the city's lower income and elderly residents. Mark's work with the Food System included the development of a commercial hydroponic greenhouse, Connecticut's Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, several farmers' markets, a 20-acre community supported agriculture farm, food and nutrition education programs, and a neighborhood supermarket.

Winne now writes, speaks, and consults extensively on community food system topics including hunger and food insecurity, local and regional agriculture, community assessment, and food policy. He also does policy communication work for the Community Food Security Coalition. His essays and opinion pieces have appeared in The Nation, Hartford Courant, Boston Globe, In These Times, Sierra, Orion, Successful Farming and numerous organizational and professional newsletters and journals across the country. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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