Wendell Pierce Opens Grocery Stores in NOLA Food Deserts

Actor Wendell Pierce (The Wire, Treme) has opened a small chain of grocery and convenience stores in his native New Orleans to help eliminate food deserts.

Food deserts – lack of access to grocery stores selling affordable, fresh foods – are critical issues in impoverished communities, including many New Orleans neighborhoods. His chain, Sterling Farms, offers affordable and nutritious foods, as well as a free shuttle to anyone who spends $50 or more, so they need not walk or take the bus with heavy bags. The stores are located in areas with single mothers, children and the elderly, the three biggest demographics affected by food deserts. Pierce explained to NBC News

“The most important thing to me is creating a relationship with the community; creating an economic engine as an opportunity for them just to have access to a decent grocery store,”

Before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005,  there were 30 grocery stores in New Orleans; today, there are 21. Most that have reopened are in wealthier neighborhoods: a Tulane University survey in 2007, the latest data available, found that nearly 60 percent of low-income residents had to travel more than three miles to reach a supermarket, though only 58 percent owned a car. In the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the hardest-hit areas, the only stores within walking distance are dollar stores, which sell staples like eggs, milk and meat, but few fresh fruits and vegetables.

Food deserts are a serious issue. Hopefully, more people will take Pierce’s lead, and can help eliminate a major problem. What do you think, LivLunatics? Does Sterling Farms make you more optimistic? What are some other ways we can eliminate food deserts?

Celebrity, Women

Too Chunky to Cheer? Asks CBS Houston

CBS Houston is concerned that a Oklahoma City Thunder cheerleader was “too chunky” to do her job. In the article by Claire Crawford posted earlier this week, she ponders,

“The Rockets looked terrible in Game 1, but some say they weren’t the only bad-looking people on the court–we’re not trying to be ugly. We are just discussing what men like in women, specifically NBA cheerleaders.” It gets better–“This pretty blonde has been criticized by some folks in OKC for having ‘pudginess’ around her waistline. But if she’s comfortable wearing that tiny outfit and dancing for NBA fans, then good for her.”

Oh boy. Where do I begin? First of all, there was no need for this to be an article. It must be a really, really slow news week out west. Second, while the whole piece is rather gross, the last line is unbelievably snotty and juvenile. Also not necessary. Third, I’m shocked that woman would write this. How would Crawford like it if someone published an article asking if she was “too chunky to write?” Fourth, I think it’s rather said that pornography and the popular media have warped our ideas as to what a cheerleader should look like.

I remember watching some VH-1 special years ago where Toni Basil was talking about the video for her hit “Mickey,” which featured real college cheerleaders. She said people were shocked to see that these girls were solid, not the popular image of thin and big breasted with pigtails that Hollywood and the porn industry had been throwing around for years. (Crawford had in her post “Either way, I wish she had a little more up on top, if you know what I mean…” but it has since been removed) It makes perfect sense when you think about it–they’re dancing, they’re supporting the weight of several other people, so yeah, most cheerleaders need to be solid, they’re not all going to be lithe.

Now I know I’ve said this over and over again–body snarking doesn’t accomplish anything. By the looks of things, it seems that perhaps Crawford has a personal issue with Kelsey (the “fat” cheerleader in question) or maybe is throwing her own body issues out on her. Like I’ve said before, it’s easy. Physical appearance is the first thing we see, so why not call it out. “ooh, you don’t look the way cheerleaders are expected to, so I’m going to call you out on it. How dare you get success by dancing around in hot pants and a halter top and smiling while I’ve had to do something else to achieve my success, like talk shit in order to get page hits.”  Crawford tried to defend herself on her Twitter account (which has been deleted) by saying that she wasn’t trying to be mean, she was just doing her job by reporting the story. What story? Again, there was absolutely no need for this article. It must be a really slow news day in Texas, or else Crawford really, really has it in for the “chunky” cheerleader–there was even a poll on the post that asked readers for their opinion on her body. A poll that asked readers for their opinion on her body.

I can’t be the only one sick of this foolishness, LivLunatics. Why must we judge so harshly, especially when it comes to women? I know I’ve asked this before, but I’m really curious. Do you have any insight?


Why I Can’t Say Anything Nice About Margaret Thatcher

When news broke of Margaret Thatcher’s death on Monday, my first thought was to write a small obituary the way we did for Gerda Lerner and Rita Levi-Montalcini. However, when it came time to say something nice like “she will be missed” or “what a great leader she was,” I couldn’t do it. I just could not do it. Why? While it was great that she was the first woman and the longest serving British prime minister of the 20th century, and it was sad that she suffered so many strokes over the past eleven years and is leaving a family behind, when you look more closely at what she accomplished while she was in power, she was far from the great leader many of her obituaries are making her out to be.



The biggest offense for me was the way she treated laborers and labor unions, instead choosing to focus on the individual, Although people did become home-owners, entrepreneurs, and bankers due to her approach, even more people became unemployed as well, especially in northern England–by closing factories and cutting social spending, Manchester quickly made a turn for the worse. In 1982, its unemployment rate was 32 percent. The greater Manchester area lost almost a fifth of its manufacturing jobs during the 1980s, and more than 125,000 people moved away. From 1979 to 1993, the poverty rate in Britain tripled. In the mid-90s, a U.N. report found that Great Britain had the most unequal society in the West.




Really? We’re supposed to celebrate a leader who hurt a great percentage of her population so she help give a leg up to some of the richest people in the world? It makes me furious. Yes, this is something that still goes on, but really? No wonder my dad’s response upon hearing the news of her death was “my heart is as broken as the lives of the laborers she destroyed.” Why should we give tribute to a leader who chose to hurt her country and not to really help it?




I could go on in great detail with other valid reasons why I can’t celebrate Thatcher–the Falklands, her friendship with leaders like Augusto Pinochet, the way she handled the Troubles in Northern Ireland (particularly the 1981 Irish Hunger strike) her stance against the unification of East and West Germany, the way she wouldn’t acknowledge the struggles of women while in a position of leadership herself (she didn’t believe in the glass ceiling)–but the labor one is the one that makes me the most angry. I feel she deliberately hurt her people, the ones she was supposed to be protecting, with her elimination of industry and the promotion of the individual over the group effort.


When politicians talk about the emphasis of the individual, they really mean one specific group of people–people who don’t really need anything as they’re well off to begin with. This is nothing new, and Thatcher wasn’t the only politician who followed this Rand-ian model of leadership, and she certainly won’t be the last. But I can’t sit here and say, “oh wow, Thatcher sure fucked up and helped set the tone for the current global political climate, but since she was a woman, I have to applaud her, she really made great strides for us. Who cares if she destroyed her people? Yay for firsts!” Nope. I can’t do that. Just because she was a woman doesn’t mean I have to agree with or even like her (in case I didn’t make that clear.) And thus, this is why I can’t say anything nice about her.



So, what’s your take? UK based readers, did I miss anything significant?