Short Documentary: Meet Me at 3rd and Fairfax

Meet Lae. She lives in South Los Angeles and just like my Northeast LA neighborhood, she has a serious lack of healthy food options and quality produce. She embarks on a journey via bus to get to 3rd and Fairfax (link goes to a video) to do some grocery shopping.

South L.A. is a “food desert,” with few supermarkets and a lot of land in between them. This video is the true-to-life tale of an epic journey, two hours–by bus, chronicling the extraordinary efforts of Healthy Eating Active Communities (HEAC) student Lae Schmidt to obtain the quality and variety of fruits and vegetables she desires. Not content with conditions as they are, Lae sits down with her local Councilwoman to discuss what can be done to improve healthy food access in their community.

Today, I had to go to my dentist off Fairfax and Wilshire and while in the neighborhood, we dropped by Farmers Market. Since moving to El Sereno from the Fairfax district last year, we’ve probably gone to Farmers Market 7 or 8 times. That’s the only thing I miss about our place; being able to walk to Farmers Market for our near daily grocery shopping. I miss being able to get high quality meats and produce at affordable prices. El Sereno has a lot of things going for it, but quality and healthy food is definitely not one of them.

The local grocery stores leave a lot to be desired. When you’re used to getting imported cheeses from Monsieur Marcel, going into the Food 4 Less to choose between Land O’ Lakes or Von’s brand blocks of cheddar really knocks you for a loop. So, we’ve adapted a bit; I grow a lot of the produce my family consumes. We go to South Pasadena where there is Trader Joe’s, Nicole’s Gourmet Cheese Shop and a pretty good farmer’s market on Thursday evenings–all of this right at the Mission Station on the Gold Line. As much as I grumble about having to drive all the way over there, I wonder if we’d still go that distance if we had to take the bus.

Thanks to Lae, I know what my monthly letter to my Councilman will be about…maybe this one won’t be ignored.

6 thoughts on “Short Documentary: Meet Me at 3rd and Fairfax”

  1. Before I realized working for the system was completely useless, I worked as a community health organizer. One of my jobs was to get people in the South Central area to eat more healthfully. I was supposed to show them healthful food options, but as I went around the stores to all the rotten vegetables and spoiled fruit at the name brand grocery stores and saw all of the really cheap fastfood eateries, I just thought, this is going to take more than me just telling people to eat healthful.

    It’s like if you live in certain places you’re kind of trapped by what’s there. Yeah people have choices, but not really. You don’t really have a choice if you’re sick, no transportation, and the ralphs (which is probably the only grocery store for miles) by your house carries rotten vegetables.

    It’s so much cheaper if you only have a little bit of money to by a one dollar hamburger than it is to buy lettuce and raw meat that is going to rot, because they send the low quality food to your neighborhood.

    Sadly people can’t afford to eat healthfully.

    I want the fastfood stands in South Central gone on some level, but on another level I know if they went away some people would actually starve to death.

    Buying groceries is expensive and I’ve heard from people who buy groceries regularly (i have dinner at pete’s cafe almost everynight, it’s bad, but i’m lazy) that it’s really expensive now.

    I remember my first presentation. It was at a half-way house. And I was talking about how you could substitute tofu in meat dishes and this lady said, “Shut-up, b*tch.” I kept going on with my presentation, but after about three months of this, I was like yeah I should shut-up and stop dealing with this issue on this ground level way which is totally stupid….


  2. I should add, getting companies that serve healthful food to move in to South LA is the better way of doing it rather than the way I was doing which was trying to get people to turn water into wine…in the 90s I was kind of stupid….

    I would love to open up something in south la, a cute eatery or a little bakery, of course i would have to learn to cook, but i’ve been watching hell’s kitchen online, so i think that’s good enough training.


  3. I have 3 grocery stores near me. I usually only go to the Food 4 Less for beer (it’s cheap!). The market on Poplar Ave. has great meat and okay produce. It’s almost a mile away so it’s not an issue of just grabbing the kids and hoofing it. There’s a Big Saver Market but walking into there is an assault on the senses. It’s constantly smells like rotten meat, though none of the other ones in the chain are that bad.

    The closest Ralphs is almost 5 miles away
    The closest Pavilions is 4.
    The Trader Joe’s is just beyond the Pavilions.
    The closest Whole Foods is a little over 6 miles away.

    There are merchants on Huntington Dr. who sell produce, meats, baked goods, but it’s not always good, and so, not worth the costs. Believe me, I am very interested in hearing what my Councilman says he’d do.

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