Case in point: The Riley County Food and Farm Council announced at a meeting Thursday that 30,000 people in the county live in what they are calling a “food desert.”

That just comes across as preposterous at first glance. It’s hard to take anything seriously after hearing that assertion.

And that’s a shame, because we’re certain that the advocates have valid points to make, and important services they’re trying to provide.

What this calls for is a more careful reframing of the issue.

The Food and Farm Council, an advisory board reporting to the city and county governments, has been charged with helping “make a stronger food system for our city and county.”

Fine and dandy.

But when a board member stands up and says that roughly half the county’s population lives in what’s called a “food desert,” that just makes the whole enterprise seem like a sham. The definition of a “food desert” is a location that is more than one mile from a grocery store.

So ... not to pick on any particular neighborhood, but that means Sharingbrook is a “food desert.” We’re talking about a subdivision with $750,000 homes.

But it’s more than a mile from the westside Dillons, so …

Let’s figure out another term. Let’s figure out more precise targeting. Because we’re certain that there are areas of our community that could benefit from easier access to fresh, healthy food. And because language and ideas have consequences: If you frame the concept as the need to eliminate “food deserts,” then you end up, what, handing out free broccoli stir-fry in Miller Ranch?

Access to food, and the waste of food, are real issues. Let’s not make a mockery of them.

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