I know that food shortages exist to far more severe extents in other countries but Alchemy's mission said to look at one's own community so I have focused my attention on my experiences here in Hackney, East London.
I am compassionate about everything food - sourcing, growing, preparing, learning about, cooking, and of course eating! For the last for years I have turned my back on supermarkets and embraced locally grown fruit and veg and locally reared organic meat. My veg is delivered from the oldest organic veg box scheme in the UK (www.riverford.co.uk), and I buy the rest of my weekly shopping from local farmer's markets - in summer we use the tiny square meter above that serves as a shelter above our front door as a urban garden (this necessitates climbing out of the bathroom, but it is the only outdoor space we have)! However most people in my area eat imported non-organic fruit, veg and meat, processed ready-meals full of additives, and huge amounts of deep-fried "crap" (pardon my language).
Have a look at the following statistical data for a brief insight into how unhealthy food and lack of access to locally grown, sustainable food sources are contributing to health deprivation in Hackney!
Health in Hackney
Hackney is one of the most health deprived areas in the country. The majority of the borough falls within the top 30-40% of health deprived areas in the country and rates poorly on most health indicators.
Average life expectancy is 77.7 years which is below both the London and England averages despite some narrowing in this gap over recent years. Hackney also has high levels of infantmortality (6.5 per 1,000) which disproportionately affects Black and Ethnic Minority groups.
Local residents are much more likely to suffer poor health than residents of other areas, with above average rates of limiting long term illnesses. In addition the local population has the highest incidence of schizophrenia and the second highest incidence of tuberculosis in Inner London.
Amongst Hackney’s residents the main causes of death are circulatory diseases and cancers, aprofile which is broadly similar to that of the country as a wh***. However, Hackney has an above average incidence in the borough of particular causes of death. Most notably the incidence of hypertensive disease and tuberculosis are far higher in Hackney than in England as a wh***.
Obesity and being overweight increase the risk factors, such as blood pressure, associated with strokes and coronary heart disease - two major causes of mortality within the borough.The rate of obese and overweight individuals is lower in Hackney than in England for men. Women living in Hackney however, exceed the England rate both for being overweight and for obesity.
Source: Compendium of Clinical and Health Indicators, National Centre for Health Outcomes Development, 2002
Sustainability in Hackney
Indices of deprivation ranks Hackney as being the fifth most deprived local authority in thecountry and the second most deprived in London. Despite this, the borough has many positiveattributes and is working towards becoming a sustainable community.
To read more about how I hope to improve access to home-grown, healthy food for my neighbours please read my ACT 2 blog!