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

3.69 of 5 stars 3.69  ·  rating details  ·  278 ratings  ·  42 reviews
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 ev...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by Beacon Press (first published January 1st 2008)
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Wealhtheow
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 are fewer food choices the poorer you get, and the food itself has ever-decreasing nutritional value. Hunger is a problem in America, but poor nutrition is an even worse one--heart disease, diabetes, and the health risks due to obesity are increasing every year.

Food deserts: "This shortage of super...more
Tabitha
“Some of the strongest proponents of local and organic food, which can easily mean a $4 tomato or $15 per pound for grass-fed beef, should be a person’s highest priority. There is a kind of moral arrogance that frowns upon a person who chooses to pay $30 a month for cable TV rather than shop regularly at Whole Foods.” (p133)

“While nothing will ever supplant the massive infusion of federal dollars that pour out across the nation every year to meet people’s nutritional needs, it has been left to t...more
Chloe
Who edits these books? It's interesting, but has some SERIOUS organizational issues.

I had a hard time getting into this book because of the weirdo-organization referenced above. Winne starts off by talking about his own experience in Hartford, CT, but never completely finishes that anecdote. Granted, he was executive director of the Hartford Food System for 25 years so theres a lot of anecdote to go around, but I never felt satisfied by his stories. He inserts examples of other projects around t...more
Liz
Not your typical public policy book, Closing the Food Gap draws on Mark Winne's 30 years of experience working on real-world solutions to food insecurity to suggest what works and what doesn't. Winne argues that policymakers and nonprofits have failed to tackle the root cause of hunger--poverty and low wages--preferring to prop up large-scale agriculture with band-aid solutions to unequal food distribution. But none of Winne's prescriptions are pat or simple, and he recognizes the need for farme...more
skye
This was gripping - and for nonfiction, that's impressive. It's an amazing review of the "new" movement to restore some health to America's food system. What's incredible about this book is that the author's perspective combines both the environmental/health food movement and the social justice movement - so the point isn't just to have good food at Whole Foods, and some kind of food in food banks for poor people - but to have good food for all people. Great stories from the front lines, told wi...more
Janelle
Oct 24, 2008 Janelle rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Janelle by: Audrey Hess
Great snapshot of our country's food system from the assistance end more than the production end. Why don't food banks work? Read this book and find out. It'll make you think twice before cleaning out your cabinet. While I'm not suggesting you stop donating canned goods to your local food pantry, you might be moved to plant vegetables instead, or better yet, start a community garden. I heard the author speak in person and he's quite convincing. If you get the chance to hear him, do!
Rae
Read in conjunction with an article I've been working on about defining the food gap and understanding the complexities of its solution in (ex-)urban America. There's a lot of great info here in the form of personal/professional anecdote and local reporting - it's a great book for any reader who wants to learn about what it feels like to be working within the food system, and who's interested in developing a greater understanding of what 'food deserts' really are (not just in the socioeconomic l...more
Happyreader
A great book to orient yourself to the issues of food equity and sustainable food policy. I really appreciate his projects/partners/policy triad of improving access to healthy food for all. I appreciate the practicality of working on concrete projects with measurable results, broadening the base of appropriate and helpful partners to expand the reach of your efforts, and the powerful impact of changing local policies before national policies.

Good overview of the history and advantages/disadvanta...more
Lori
Along with growing poverty and income inequality in America, there is also a growing food inequality. The local and organic food movements are gaining momentum, but are largely silent on the issues facing the poor – food access, justice, and inequality. For most poor people in this country, it is a matter of gaining access to any healthy food – let alone locally grown, sustainable, or organic food. Winne’s book is a good primer on this fundamental dichotomy and a few potential solutions to the i...more
Ana
Mar 02, 2008 Ana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in food/nutritional equity
Shelves: foodie
I really enjoyed this book. Winne does a good job in tracing the public policies that were eroded in the 1980s to support food access for low-income communities and the accompanying flight of grocery stores from low-income areas (only to be replaced by expensive small poorly stocked markets and unhealthy fast food joints).

What I enjoyed most was that Winne's lays out the alternatives in the last few sections of the book and demonstrates the ways we all can get involved no matter what our stake i...more
Katie
Although highly recommended I found this book to be a disappointment. The author brings up some interesting points about how to get healthy, fresh, reasonably priced food to the "food deserts" of inner cities. In these low-income areas impoverished people are forced to either pay exorbitant amounts of money for unhealthy processed foods and poor quality produce or travel long distances by public transportation to suburban shopping areas. The author discusses viable options for closing the food g...more
Elizabeth
This book was a real eye-opener that explained how food inequality and food deserts occur in the United States. Winne is definitely passionate and knowledgable about his subject, and his book made several points that surprised me. For example, food banks are not necessarily a good solution to the problem of hunger. He also makes some important observations about the benefits of the local and organic movement—benefits that are not fully extended to America's poor.

The book does, however, suffer f...more
Meepspeeps
This is a good memoir of the different efforts since the 70s to improve food access for the poor. It explains some of the problems that the food bank/food distribution bureaucracy causes and tries to save itself as an "industry" at times instead of focusing 100% on food access through the most integrated means possible. Working with non-profits I sometimes see them advocating more for their preservation than for improving the lives of their clients and new methods to prevent having clients at al...more
Cristen Curley-edwards
It seemed like something I wanted to read, but I couldn't finish it.
Lara
Easy to read and a good overview of food insecurity in this country. Covers topics such as good deserts in inner cities, community gardens, and why food pantries are not the answer to food insercurity. The only thing I thought was annoying about the book is the author's told you so, I'm so smart attitude that pops up in particular parts of the book. In his defense, if you read the book you will see he has been working in this field for decades so I guess he is entitled to a little attitude.
Enrico
Winne deserves praise for his commitment, but the book lies between an unorganized collection of stories and a political program to help the poor people of the USA with palliative solutions without really questioning the source of the unjust gap. I think it lacks the broad view of hunger and poverty outside the core of the Empire, in the provinces of the so-called Third World: without any reference to that, any work on these problems can't be convincing and complete.
Aryn
This book was a good overview of the issues involved in the food gap--the accessibility of fresh, nutritious food to those living in low income urban areas. I skipped over parts of it that were familiar to me and therefore repetitive, but there is a wealth of information in this book on strategies that have been used round the country to ensure fresh food can be reached by those living in areas where ubiquitous liquor stores are the main source of groceries.
Tyra
Mar 15, 2009 Tyra marked it as gave-up-on  ·  review of another edition
I took this out of the library based on the title alone. I didn't read the flap or have any knowledge of what the book was going to be about. I thought it would be more along the lines of going back to basics or better food distribution. While it was an interesting topic as written about, I found it dry and not very compelling so I skimmed it. Therefore, I don't feel it is fair for me to rate it as completed because I gave it such a cursory read.
Pat
2010 Social Action - UMW Book. I had started reading it about 2 months ago and finally decided I was going to finish it. It was somewhat interesting because I did not know of the "food gap" between upper/middle/lower class citizens and effects of food banks, farmers' markets, organic farming, transportation issues, food giant markets, Whole Foods Market corporation, etc. Glad I read it and understand a tiny bit more about some of the issues.
Michelle
The state of the food system in Hartford started out great and now we spend more money feeding people outside of our country than inside. The quality of our food has declined as big manufacturers have taken over the food chain. Most things available to the most needy of our population is processed and has all sorts of unhealthy add ins leading to slew of health problems that we will have to address sometime in their lifetime.
Sarah
Amazing book! great follow-up to the other food industry books i have been reading. less about the specifics of the food itself, more about who is eating it. Thoroughly explores the ideas, actions, and policies surrounding the new emerging debate in American society: is access to local a/o organic food a right or a privilege?
Pam
This book was all over the place: part memoir, part history, part political manifesto, and several examples that were too long to be anecdotes but too short to be case studies. Although the current discourse on food politics badly needs more perspectives on race and class issues, Winne makes a better activist than messenger.
Lindsey
I read this book during breaks in my work day and while it took me quite a long time to finish it this way it was worth it. Winne talks about an issue that is facing the low income communities in America everyday. He has great insight into how the system works and why it is the way it is.
Lexi
An interesting perspective on the widening "food gap" between Americans at or below the poverty line and everyone else. The author is very personally invested, which is good and bad - this is not the most objective look at policy issues or solutions, but thought-provoking nonetheless.
Kbg503
"Food insecurity" is a term that is getting used more, and this is a wonderful book that guides readers through the history and mission of food banks, government programs and policies, retail chains and farmers markets, and living conditions for low income people.
John
Provides a good summary of the food gap that exists in America and the different efforts to address food insecurity. The author bases too much belief in the power of government to solve the worlds ills.
Trilety
Descriptive and introductory review of issues and solutions to getting good food into the mouths of the poor. Community gardens, farmers markets, shelters, etc are all given brief but interesting attention.
Corey
Oct 10, 2009 Corey rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: a locavore, food policy advocate
Recommended to Corey by: book club
I enjoyed this book and learned a lot about our food pantry system, and hunger issues in this country. I think you could excerpt chapters of the book and read them uniquely in a college course.
Hayley
Very informative, the author offerred alot of insight into the follies of our current system of providing food to those in needs. He offers many possible solutions that are promising.
Lori Kincaid
This book seemed like little more than propaganda with little in the way of real policy recommendations. I wasn't impressed.
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906050
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 hydropon...more
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