Wednesday, April 24

Sustainable South: New Roots Against Food Deserts

Karyn Moskowitz. Photo by New Roots.

Louisville, Kentucky is often hailed as one of the emerging food-and-drink capitals of the South. But Karyn Moskowitz believes that her city is afflicted by what she calls "food apartheid," and that thousands of low-income Lousiville residents suffer from preventable illnesses due to lack of access to fresh, healthy food. As the founder and director of New Roots, a non-profit that works to improve the distribution and utilization of fresh foods, Moskowitz strives for a just and sustainable food system in the Ohio River valley.

A passion for food justice inspired Moskowitz to create the non-profit. Through New Roots, she works with farmers and food justice leaders to facilitate leadership development in Louisville neighborhoods with limited access to fresh produce. The mission is to provide education about healthy eating, to provide access to fresh food, and to work with communities to adjust food policy on a local level. By working with traditionally marginalized neighborhoods to relearn community food history and gain leadership skills, so-called "food deserts" in and around Louisville are transformed into centers of plenty.
Fresh Stop. Photo by New Roots.
One of the organization’s programs, Fresh Stop, serves hundreds of low-income families every year by selling produce shares on a sliding scale. The program brings together communities to make wholesale purchases of fresh, organic food from local farmers. In doing so, costs are reduced for participating families. One summer, for example, Fresh Stop customers could buy cantaloupes for 25 cents a piece. Beyond serving as a low-cost CSA, Fresh Stop also offers recipes and tips on how to prepare the produce it sells.

Moskowitz believes in social change from the ground up. In addition to projects with New Roots, she works in the areas of public interest and environmental law for citizens’groups nationally. She has an MBA in environmental management, and has been named one of twelve Jewish Women in Environmental Activism by the National Women’s Archive in 2010, one of ten “Green Jewish Women” by Jewish Woman Magazine in 2009, and was a member of Slow Food’s Terra Madre Conference delegation to Italy in 2008 and 2010.

Emilie Dayan, our office intern/assistant/chief collaborator, blogs weekly about issues of nutrition, sustainability, and food policy in the South.