I had never heard the concept of food desert until this project was presented to me. I was aware that there was food insecurity in the world, but I had minimal knowledge about the severity of the issue. It was brought to my attention that food insecurity is all too common in America, affecting nearly 40 million people. When I began researching more about hunger in America, I was surprised by the complexity of the problem. It quickly became apparent that there are too many factors that contribute to the question “Why is there food insecurity?”
Having more awareness of the issue of food insecurity has impacted me greatly. Understanding how common this issue is has made me question why it is not a topic that is talked about more. The stigma regarding hunger is not helpful to solving the problem. I want to see the stigma erased and for people to become more aware of just how badly hunger is affecting our world.
My time spent visiting and photographing in Cuba, Kansas was an impactful experience for me. The opportunity to work in the field and immerse myself in the issue of food deserts made everything I had learned a reality. Cuba welcomed us with warmth and generosity and were happy to speak to us about the issue of food insecurity in their community. Listening to the stories of the residents of Cuba gave me an insight into the way they were personally affected by living in a food desert. Getting a glimpse into the personal matters of the residents was most impactful for me, inspiring me to photograph the people and places of Cuba that truthfully represented their story.
I am most interested in photographing people and places that hold meaning to me and I believe they have a story to be shared. I wanted to photograph the reality of food insecurity. Food insecurity isn’t a neat and tidy cookie cutter image. Food deserts are real and significantly affect people’s lives, even if it doesn’t appear to be an issue based off of an unrealistic expectation of what we may believe food insecurity looks like.
After the trip, I began to consider the archival elements that food resembled. Seeing that food, particularly fresh produce, is scarce and unattainable to many, I began to look at produce in a new way. I used a genre of photography typically used for archeology. I applied this way of representing an object of importance as a way to communicate the issue of food insecurity.