Mobile Market Brings Locally-Grown Produce to Food Deserts in Chicago


How can a community deal with food deserts, or urban areas without ready access to a variety of healthy, fresh foods? Convincing grocery chain to enter these often impoverished neighborhoods is one idea; urban farming is another (that’s really taken off). Chicago’s Food Desert Network has just launched yet another alternative: the Fresh Moves Mobile Produce Mart.

Think of it as the farmers market meets the lunch truck. The City of Chicago sold the organization a decommissioned bus (for $1) which they (with the help of Architecture for Humanity) reconfigured into a rolling produce market. Fresh Moves made its first venture out into the Lawndale neighborhood last week… you can see the launch (including the end of the bus upgrades) in the video above.

Interested in learning more about this idea? Crew member Dara Cooper sat down for an interview with Mindful Metropolis, and discussed the business model, produce sourcing, and the green features of the bus.

Seems like a good addition to current approaches to bringing fresh food into neighborhoods that don’t have ready access to it… let me know what you think.

via @terracomchicago

  1. Marc Ballat


    your post makes me wonder if you still have local markets in the US. AFAIK, they are still present in most countries Western European countries (Belgium, France, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Italy). They are usually weekly or more in bigger or tourist places. You can find fruits, vegetables, dairy products, meat, flowers, clothes, etc. Clothes may well come from China and fruits from Argentina, at least do you get the chance to actually talk to someone and enquire about their origin, in case you care…


    1. Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

      Hi, Marc–

      We do… in fact, they’re growing here. But… they tend to open in more affluent areas. In a few cases (right here in St. Louis, for instance), at least one group has opened a market (which, in part, they source from their own urban farm) in a disadvantaged neighborhood… but “food deserts” are still a real issue here in the US.

  2. Rich Welch

    I found your site, now you’re in trouble, Jeff!

    While I agree with the concept of getting fresh food and veggies to those without, and even the mobile food bus concept is fantastic, I am wondering why the people who habitate these deserts haven’t done this for themselves in the past? It’s discouraging to me that in this country where inguinuity and hard work is a source of national pride those without haven’t figured out a way. It doesn’t help that major fast food chains are accepting EBT now, either. Cancelling that program would be the FIRST step to affecting change, IMHO.

    Also, organic strawberries? Wouldn’t the be able to provide more people with more food at less cost if they were carrying conventional fruits and veggies? I mean, besides the fact that I can’t even afford organic strawberries (and I do ok for my family, we are talking about basic fiscal responsibility here.

    Well, my $.02.

    1. Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

      Welcome aboard, Rich… the more, the merrier.

      I do want to respond to your questions/ideas here, but, well, getting a bit late for me… wanted to make sure to welcome you, though. Bring on your thoughts… you’ll find others willing to engage with you intelligently and passionately.

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