A Foodless Neighborhood in a “Foodie” Town: Tracing Scarcity in Asheville’s East End Neighborhood

Feldman's Grocery, by Andrea Clark, ca. 1968, Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, North Carolina.

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A Foodless Neighborhood in a “Foodie” Town: Tracing Scarcity in Asheville’s East End Neighborhood

by Nina Flagler Hall
Southern Cultures, Vol. 23, No. 2: Summer 2017

“While East End isn’t recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a food desert, for all intents and purposes that’s what it was. So how did East End, so close to the heart of Asheville, end up without any food?”

In 2000, to usher in the new millennium, my husband and I bought a crack house in Asheville’s East End. This was not a glib assessment of one of those abandoned houses you see with overgrown bushes in the front yard, a sad, sagging porch, and a rumored history of violence, although the house had all those things. We found little crack baggies lying on the floor next to a stained mattress in the front bedroom. There was a hole in the kitchen floor where you could peer into the dirt crawlspace below, and the back porch was filled with waterlogged furniture, discarded 40-ounce bottles, and lots and lots of trash. It needed a complete rehab. But it was cheap, it had good bones, and we were young and strong. The house ended up being a treasure at the price we paid, and we found other treasures there, too. What we didn’t find, however, was food.

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