The organic movement has earned high marks for its environmental accomplishments, but when it comes to socioeconomic issues, the high-minded ethos falls flat. Access to the wholesome nutrition of organic food is simply barred by the niche market's high price tags. So how do we make quality food available to all? A few groups are cooking up some innovative solutions.
At the One World Café in Salt Lake City, customers set the price for their organic, fair-trade meals. Urbanite reports that One World provides options for all customers, from homeless patrons to business folks on their lunch breaks. A daily free entrée is always on the menu and the restaurant offers a 'hand-up, not a hand-out' option by exchanging meal coupons for every hour of volunteer service. At the end of the day, says founder Denise Cerreta, the restaurant ends up with a fair price for the staff's work.
Cerreta, who established the café in 2003, spreads the restaurant's ideals by counseling those with similar entrepreneurial ambitions through her nonprofit, One World Everybody Eats. SAME (So All May Eat) Café, for example, followed in One World's footsteps and opened the doors of its community-based venue in Denver last year.
While pay-what-you-can restaurants are emerging elsewhere, sometimes a little home cooking is what people need most. To get wholesome ingredients into household kitchens, People's Grocery in Oakland, California, doles out organic vittles in a vibrantly refurbished postal truck. According to Plenty, the truck travels through local neighborhoods, playing hip-hop music and setting up tables with fresh produce at numerous posts along its route.
The activists behind People's Grocery began their efforts in 2002 by teaching nutrition classes and starting a community garden. Eventually, though, founders Malaika Edwards, Leander Sellers, and Brahm Ahmadi realized that nutrition classes weren't enough; knowing how to prepare a meal without access to its ingredients is futile. So they began stocking the truck with local organic foods, distributing their wares to nearly 3,500 community members. To meet the growing demand, People's Grocery plans to open a permanent location in 2008.
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