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Deserts of Bed-Stuy

“Bedford-Stuyvesant is a food desert,” someone from Radical Living told me. The closest fresh produce is about a half mile away, an unfair disadvantage for disabled or elderly people desiring this essential fare. For six weeks of my summer sublet on Long Island, I walked half a mile to a farm where I bought locally-grown onions, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peaches and returned home to make salads and cobbler to share with friends. While visiting Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, I bought tomatoes grown in California and strawberries grown in New Jersey, but I also met people who grow tomatoes and herbs in their backyard.

Bedford-Stuyvesant is also a Starbucks desert. The closest one is 1.5 miles away at Atlantic Terminal, and freestanding ones are a half mile farther.  This is advantageous for me, because it gives me the opportunity to investigate the various independent coffee shops in the area. I drafted this post at Outpost where I savored tile that evoked diatoms, dangling exposed lightbulbs that reminded me of Sarratt Student Center, and two turntables, three or four shelves of vinyl, and one microphone festooned with recycled newspaper that seemed to summon a dj.

Unlike the other independent coffee shops I probed, Outpost regularly stays open later than 9pm. It appears that the only other location for late-night coffee is Dunkin’ Donuts. Is there is a correlation between the food desert and the Starbucks or late-night coffee desert? Researching the answer to that question would require more ethnography than I am presently capable of pursuing.

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