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Urban agriculture is a gateway to healthy foods

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Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) represents urban neighborhoods such as Boyle Heights, Downtown Los Angeles and Westlake.

Urban agriculture has multiple benefits because when communities eat healthier, children can focus better in school, workers can be more productive and the people living in the area can lower their rates of obesity-related ailments, which in turn, decreases medical bills and helps families save money

By John A. Pérez
Univ of California – California Agriculture
California Agriculture 67(4):192-192. DOI: 10.3733/ca.v067n04p192.
October-December 2013

Excerpt:

As we often boast, California is home to 81,000 farms and ranches that produce more than 400 different varieties of fruits, vegetables, nuts and other products, making “California grown” synonymous with the best-grown commodities in the nation. Farming occurs in some form in each of the state’s 58 counties, but each day too many Californians go without access to fresh and healthy food. Many of these people, living in both rural and urban communities scattered around the state, suffer from poor health and diet-related illnesses and experience an overall lower quality of life because they do not have access to affordable healthy foods.

For more than 50 years, California has led the nation in agricultural production, yet nearly 1 million of our residents live in areas known as “food deserts.” Found mostly in urban settings, these areas do not provide affordable, fresh and nutritious fruits, vegetables and dairy products. As a result, those living in food deserts suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, and they experience higher instances of premature death. These ailments and premature deaths can be reduced with access to healthy foods.

Many urban residents have taken the initiative to start growing their own vegetables. In the last 3 years, the number of community gardens in Los Angeles has risen by 30%. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, from 2011 to 2012 the number of farmers markets increased from 580 to 729 locations statewide, sparked by a desire from urban residents to have greater access to healthy produce.

Read the complete article here.