Bike tour promotes fresh food choices

Many local food markets around South Los Angeles offer organically grown fruits and vegetables, but many students do not always take notice.

Healthy choices · Autumn Chiklis, a freshman majoring in theatre, buys fruit on Thursday at the weekly farmers market on Trousdale. - Sarah Wu | Daily Trojan

Healthy choices · Autumn Chiklis, a freshman majoring in theatre, buys fruit on Thursday at the weekly farmers market on Trousdale. — Sarah Wu | Daily Trojan

T.R.U.S.T. South LA, Community Services Unlimited and Ride South Los Angeles held a bike tour to promote awareness of these healthy food options on March 3.

More than 100 participants followed a map provided by the organizations to locate the markets.

François Bar, an associate professor in the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, helped create the map by developing ParTour, a system that uses mobile technology to reach out to people in the surrounding community. People in the community use their cell phones to send text messages or pictures of places around Los Angeles to an email address and then provide descriptions that identify the place’s location. In the case of the health map, the people in the community sent information about healthy places to eat.

“Many of the residents in the area don’t have iPhones, so this is a way that everyone can be involved. It can be used for all feature phones; they just have to have a camera,” Bar said.

Bar said that so far 50 and 100 people are currently using the map.

This project was created to raise awareness of healthy food options in the area.

The restaurants and stores highlighted include Fresh and Easy, Mama’s Chicken, Superior Grocery Store, El Azteca and Ralphs Grocery Store.

Bar believes the map serves as an important tool for engaging in the community around South Los Angeles.

“The map is not mainly about finding the way around South Los Angeles, but more of a story about the neighborhood which is not usually told,” Bar said. “South L.A. has the reputation for being a food desert, but this is not true. People have been working to bring healthy food here.”

Bar said the map is also used as a way for people to find healthy ways to get to the food places, such as walking and bike riding. Another one of the main features of the map is an identification of the different community gardens in the neighborhood.

TRUST South LA and Community Services Unlimited organized the bike tour around the South Los Angeles area to demonstrate its features. Biking helps to demonstrate the different healthy ways for people to access the stores and markets and for people to get some exercise.

Some students who live in the area said they do not know about the healthy options that surround them.

“Healthy food is not advertised,” said Austin Mudd, a sophomore majoring in business administration.       “There are a lot of extremely unhealthy fast food places along Figueroa but, other than Fresh & Easy, not much else comes to mind.”

Not everyone, however, believes promoting local food markets will be completely successful. Students are concerned that with healthier food also comes more expensive prices, which might not end up helping the community.

“The problem with healthy food is that it tends to be more time-consuming to access and definitely costs more,”  said Ryan Heintz, a sophomore majoring in neuroscience.

This project will continue throughout the year and the map will be continuously updated, Bar said. Bar also encourages residents around the area to remain involved in the effort to raise awareness about healthy eating.


The map can be accessed at