Two months ago KCET covered a farmers “stand” in South Los Angeles. This lead to a discourse between myself and “jael” a KCRW reader/listener/commenter who apparently lives in “strife”-ridden South Los Angeles which ended with jael dropping the mic and just walking away. I pissed him/her off by bringing up Zimmerman shooting. S/he says race has nothing to do with poverty and the food desert situation.
Here’s an excert of two of his/her reply:
Don’t mind the Smart & Final that few people notice because they offer over ripened fruit and veggies for ridiculously high prices. OH and the Albertson’s that almost closed because… people complained about the overpriced produce. They managed to keep that open because Ralph’s is gone. Jefferson’s got Food4Less where everyone knows you can get bootleg DVDs for $5 or solicited for sex just by walking in the parking lot. I mean the shady motel across the street is just so inviting. Why not brave the parking lot for seasonally correct fruit at a value?
Maybe you’re comfortable no matter where you go, but the same doesn’t apply to everyone else.
And this is my retort (an argument I’ve already made in one of my comments to that KCRW piece): Latinos are apparently NOT starving even in LA’s second most well known supposed “food desert”, East Los Angeles. Because, well, they visit the supposed “Latino” markets and food4less in the neighborhood. jael states the latter store is also good for $5 bootleg DVDs and tricks. I’m totally not passing moral jdugement on prostitution, so I’m glossing over that. And I think if the neighborhood is truly poor, they shouldn’t buy bootleg DVDs to begin with. Actually, I don’t know what the poor people do for entertainment. My understand is that they really have no money to do much of anything, or anything that’s utterly useless, like writing a “food blog”. So maybe they really need to buy $5 bootleg DVDs because driving to a Best Buy, where there are actual DVDs (of shitty movies) for $5, is improbable, since jael says people down South have no cars. But let’s return to the subject of Latinos cooking. jael commended me for going to South LA for ribs and such, but proclaims there are others who aren’t as “comfortable”. Listen jael, trust me when I say going to El Super in East LA is hella uncomfortable. But I still shop there, because that’s where the Latinos go. In Santa Ana, when I want to grill, I hit up Northgate for carne asana; EQUALLY UNCOMFORTABLE. If your neighbors can’t get their asses out of their own comfort zone to FEED YOSELF, I don’t know WHAT THE HELL TO TELL South Los Angeles. That’s your own neighborhood, and Choi, backed by Dole, isn’t the freaking answer, no matter what he tells you in some high falutin conference. The gangs can shoot each other, then go buy fried chicken at Bertha’s, but they can’t go into Smart and Final to buy some fruit? (By the way, over ripe fruit is the best kind of fruit. I buy $1 buckets of banged up pears because they’re sweet. Take that as free life hack you won’t find on KCET).
The commenter also contradicted him/herself by denouncing affordable produce offered at ALL the Latino markets as inferior. I was totally ready for this counter argument. Cause, you know, I buy pineapples and mangoes at Superior, during sales days. And the manilla mangos end up being delicious. I don’t know if I’m willing to ever move to Culver City because the pineapples have also been incredibly sweet. Now, predicting 2 chess pieces ahead, it is not preposterous for jael to accuse of all grocery chains of profiling neighborhood by supplying economically challenged consumers with piss poor food. But the accusation that said piss poor food is overpriced? Ludicrous. The prices are on the fliers, and jael even noted the same circulars land inside South LA’s mailboxes. Perhaps the same people who aren’t going bothering to find fresh food at El Super are also so downtrodden they don’t have mailboxes. I will admit I have no clue how to solve that type of socio-economic desperation. Though I will say this: even not as scrumptious pears (OMG, $2 for $0.99!?!?) is better than eating fast food, isn’t it? If the obesity epidemic has already reached such a dire state that a farm stand needs to pop-up at a liquor store (owned by a Korean), maybe it’s time just to eat those inferior peaches instead of complaining about Ralph’s closing down?
If you’re willing to teach (or make an effort) then while you’re over for jerk chicken lead your own self-help workshop at a local community center. Teach the community what you outsiders know… But I won’t argue with someone that makes light of a grim situation.
No jael, you educate your neighbors. I’m already educating mine by raising chickens, giving them my greens, supporting CSAs, seed bombing their yard with greens that they want, and cooking at home. No need to mock my drive into your town, spending what little money I have in your supposedly hardship-torn region. South LA non-Latinos have better shit to do than to find some non-courage to shop at food4less because finding affordable tasty food isn’t important? And you all wonder why the Ralph’s moved out? And how dare anyone leave out the race issue when it’s staring us in the face:
Looks like I don’t want to have this discourse with you either because all I see are Black people in that photo. I’m not making light of the sitation, only laughing at the kudos jael gave me, and the absurdity of this supposed timidity of his/her neighbors.
And I’m not even the one who owns the gun.
Couple of months after Which Way L.A.‘s piece, KCET, the public media force with more reach than KCRW, covered the same market. This time, the article was written without any racial overtones. However, Rick Paulas, as oft bloggers do, used a Common Creative licensed photo to depict the “exotic” fruits clearly NOT being sold at this South Los Angeles farmers stand in front of the liquour store. This isn’t the first time Paulas used such tactics and inflicted this disgenuousness onto the reader. I find this to be really poor journalism, but KCET blog, like most online media these days, probably isn’t paying Paulas enough money to cover his drive from East LA down to South LA for an actual photo for this particular assignment.
I found this piece fascinating because the farmers market organizer is directly quoted, but I see pride and naivete yet again:
Marqueece: One of the things we’re proud of is that nobody here’s waiting on the government, banks, big business, grocers, or even corporate farmers to do anything… We want to create a business where the vendors are coming to us. We want to change the relationship. Because what’s happened in South L.A. is that a lot of people try to go out and convince vendors, and when vendors do do it it’s almost like they’re doing you a favor
99% of farmers markets in Los Angeles are not “big businesse” supported. That is, by definition, the whole point of farmers market. The farmers really are doing everyone a favor by showing up to minor markets. It’s the difficulties that any upstart farmers market manager faces. It has nothing to do with . They’re NOT going to go to you Marqueece. They’re just not driving 100 miles to make $40. Again, it’s the Catch 22. Why not contract a local urban farm and resale? Do retail CSA? And jael, have you tried the berries from this stand? Are they better than Smart&Final? I really, really hope so, for the sake of the 1000 words you typed in those comments.
Now, excuse me while I return to these extremely unhealthy dessert of fried churros, covered in GMO chocolate sauce, that I picked up from East Los Angeles.