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South Central Los Angeles is the “home of the drive-by shooting”.

Often referred to as simple “South Central”, it is known to many by the scenes of urban decay featured in films such as Colors, South Central, Menace II Society and Boyz n the Hood. There are also countless songs about the the gang culture and violence, including N.W.A.’s infamous “Straight Outta Compton” that starts:

“When something happens in South Central Los Angeles
Nothing happens, it’s just another nigga dead”

N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton

Thing is, the world view of South Central might be death caused by drive-by shootings, but in a thought provoking TED talk, South Central resident Ron Finley tells a different story. Ron makes it clear that South Central is the home of both the drive-thru and the drive-by and says that “the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys.”

In his talk, Ron Finley talks about a South Central where it is impossible to live without seeing the ill effects that the present food system has on the neighbourhood. He says “I see wheelchairs bought and sold like used cars. I see dialysis centers popping up like Starbucks.”

Ron’s answer has been to become a guerrilla gardener. He says “Food is the problem and food is the solution. Plus I got tired of driving 45 minutes round trip to get an apple that wasn’t impregnated with pesticides. So what I did, I planted a food forest in front of my house.“

“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do, especially in the inner city. Plus, you get strawberries.”

Ron Finley, guerrilla gardener

I found Ron’s talk really inspiring and I completely agree with his view on how to get kids to eat healthy food when he says “if kids grow kale, kids eat kale. If they grow tomatoes, they eat tomatoes.” Like Jamie Oliver said in his TED speech, we need to teach every child about food in order to fight obesity and the diseases caused by the modern western diet.

I strongly recommend watching this video of Ron Finley’s TED talk:

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