Farmers market counters White Earth ‘food desert’

A farmers market in northwestern Minnesota seeks to be an oasis in a “food desert” on the White Earth Indian Reservation.

The Forum reports the Ojibwe reservation has only two or three grocery stores. Its more common convenience stores are stocked mostly with processed foods, often high in salt, fat and sugar. That’s a recipe for diabetes, which afflicts 30 percent of the reservation’s residents, with 50 percent at risk, according to the tribe’s figures.

But every Thursday during the summer, growers and canners gather in Mahnomen to sell fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as items like low- or no-sugar jellies.

The market is one of a variety of programs aimed at combating the epidemic of obesity and diabetes on the reservation, which has a population of about 10,000.