“It’s a good day in Dease Lake when a produce truck breaks down on the Cassiar highway.
For residents in and around this remote northern community, fresh produce can be hard to come by, especially in the winter.
So when there’s an accident, word goes out and people salvage what they can from the trailer before everything rots, according to Christine Glennie-Visser, regional co-ordinator for the Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) network in northern B.C.
“These are average, regular people,” she says. “But what happens in these isolated communities is when the fresh produce arrives, it’s descended upon. . . sometimes produce only comes in once or twice a month.”
But for residents in some of B.C.’s most rural and remote communities, it’s not so hard to imagine.
It is, in effect, a food desert: a troubling phenomenon that has been studied in urban areas like Detroit and Los Angeles, but much less so in rural areas, according to Deepthi Jayatilaka, provincial manager for food security at the Provincial Health Service Authority.
High prices, vast distances
Generally, a food desert is defined as not having a food outlet within walking distance or within reach of public transportation, says Jayatilaka.
“When you think about a lot of the people in more rural and remote communities, they travel distances of sometimes two hours to get to a grocery store,” she says. “We also know that in most remote areas, public transport is almost unheard of. That becomes a significant limitation.”…”