CHICAGO
10/20/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Organic Color Line

On a one-acre vegetable farm in Chicago, a bearded, 6 foot, 3 inch-tall black man squats before a bed of green, leafy radishes. Unlike most produce, these have been grown without toxic chemicals.

As he reaches into the dense foliage to harvest them, an oversized black t-shirt hangs on his thin square shoulders and red basketball shorts skim his calves.

Sunglasses shield his eyes, and a Bluetooth rests on his right ear. He sees a red, tennis ball-sized bulb and grabs its plume, plucking the radish from the ground."That's a big boy," said Arthur King, 36, smiling as he pinches the stringy roots and threads them between his fingers to remove the dirt.

The roughly 10 pounds King gathers--just enough to gauge buyer interest for the rest of the season--will be taken to the grand opening of the Englewood Farmers Market the next day, along with several bunches of organic collard greens and kale.

Englewood is a predominantly black, low-income community that, like most black Chicago neighborhoods, offers residents few groceries where they can buy organic food. Organic food is healthier and environmentally friendly, but rarely found on store shelves in Chicago's black neighborhoods. "It's easier to find a semi-automatic weapon in our communities than it is to find a tomato, much less an organic tomato," said LaDonna Redmond, a food justice activist at the Frederick Blum Neighborhood Assistance Center, a Chicago State University urban planning think tank.

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