From the top-down and the bottom-up, communities are coming together to end food deserts.

Take a moment to think about how far from your house you have to travel to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, or meat. If you have to travel at least one mile (or 10 miles in rural areas) to purchase fresh food, you, my friend, are living in a food desert.

A food desert looks less like this:


Photo by iStock.

And more like this:

Yes, there is access to food in a food desert. But not fresh produce or meat. Photo by iStock.

Food deserts tend to exist in low-income areas, where residents may not have access to reliable transportation, which makes traveling long distances difficult, time consuming, and expensive.

For example, in Baltimore, a heavily residential metropolitan area, 1 in 4 people live in a food desert.

According to the Baltimore Business Journal, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake intends to introduce legislation offering, "new or renovating supermarkets in certain areas of the city an 80 percent discount on their personal property taxes for 10 years."

Those areas of the city are, of course, food deserts.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images.

And Rawlings-Blake is not alone. Between 2001 and 2011, 12 states, including Washington D.C., enacted healthier food legislation. Which is a good thing, because food deserts aren't just an isolated issue, they're a national problem.

An estimated 23.5 million people in the U.S. (that's 7% of the country) reside in a food desert.

Without access to groceries or supermarkets to buy healthy food, residents of these areas often resort to fast food or convenience stores, which can result in poor nutrition and an increase in diet-related diseases like heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Photo by iStock.

As part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign, the current administration pledged to eliminate food deserts in America by 2017.

While many elected officials are doing what they can, the legislative process is often slow. Many people living in food deserts can't afford to wait until 2017 to get access to fresh food.

Grassroots organizations in cities and communities are helping chip away at the ambitious goal.

Consider the Real Food Farm, an urban farm in a Baltimore park. While Mayor Rawlings-Blake is proposing a bill to give tax cuts to supermarkets in food deserts in the near future, the volunteers from Real Food Farm are making sure the people in those areas have access to fresh produce right now.

Several times a week, volunteers harvest crops and drive to different communities to sell fresh produce from their truck, better known as a "mobile farmers market." They even match the first $5 customers spend. Thanks to the matching program, shoppers can take home a full bag of groceries for less than most meals at fast food restaurants.

Real Food Farm's mobile farmers market in action. Photo by Real Food Farm, used with permission.

Or consider Juices for Life, a fresh-pressed juice bar in the Bronx, which was opened by platinum-selling rap artists Styles P and Jadakiss with the goal of bringing healthier options to the community they love.

"If you walk down the block in the hood, it's nearly impossible to find something healthy to put in your body," Jadakiss said in a video for EliteDaily. "We didn't have the knowledge or the opportunity we do now. That's exactly what we're trying to give to our community."


Or consider the People's Community Market in West Oakland, California, where the community was so desperate for a grocery store but couldn't secure large private investors. Brahm Ahmadi, a local entrepreneur, took it upon himself to found the market and sell stock in the organization through a direct public offering, the same nontraditional approach used by Costco and Ben & Jerry's when they were up-and-coming businesses.

The individuals and families investing (each contributing a minimum of $1,000) have raised over $1 million to acquire a site and get to work building the much-needed grocery store.


West Oakland is one step closer to veggies on veggies on veggies. Photo by iStock.

All of these options are steps in the right direction toward solving a much bigger problem. They're a frequent reminder that when we come together, we can find meaningful solutions to challenging problems and help our communities thrive.

Cats are notoriously weird. Everyone who's had cats knows that they each have their own unique quirks, idiosyncrasies, preferences, habits, and flat-out WTFness.

But even those of us who have experience with bizarre cat behavior are blown away by the antics this "cat dad" is able to get away with.

Kareem and Fifi are the cat parents of Chase, Skye, and Millie—literally the most chill kitties ever. They share their family life on TikTok as @dontstopmeowing, and their videos have been viewed millions of times. When you see them, you'll understand why.

Take Chase's spa days, for example. It may seem unreal at first, but watch what happens when Fifi tries to take away his cucumber slices.

When she puts them back on his eyes? WHAT?! What cat would let you put them on once, much less get mad when you take them off?

This cat. Chase is living his best life.

But apparently, it's not just Chase. Skye and Millie have also joined in "spaw day." How on earth does one couple end up with three hilariously malleable cats?

Oh, and if you think they must have been sedated or something, look at how wide awake they are during bath time. That's right, bath time. Most cats hate water, but apparently, these three couldn't care less. How?

They'll literally do anything. The Don't Stop Meowing channel is filled with videos like this. Cats wearing glasses. Cats wearing hats. Cats driving cars. It's unbelievable yet highly watchable entertainment.

If you're worried that Kareem gets all the love and Fifi constantly gets the shaft, that seems to be a bit for show. Look at Chase and Fifi's conversation about her leaving town for a business trip:

The whole channel is worth checking out. Ever seen a cat being carried in a baby carrier at the grocery store? A cat buckled into a car seat? Three cats sitting through storytime? It's all there. (Just a heads up: A few of the videos have explicit language, so parents might want to do a preview before watching with little ones.) You can follow the couple and their cats on all their social media channels, including Instagram and YouTube if TikTok isn't your thing, here.

If you weren't a cat person before, these videos might change your mind. Fair warning, however: Getting a cat because you want them to do things like this would be a mistake. Cats do what they want to do, and no one can predict what weird traits they will have. Even if you raise them from kittenhood, they're still unpredictable and weird.

And honestly, we wouldn't have them any other way.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying!

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There have been many iconic dance routines throughout film history, but how many have the honor being called "the greatest" by Fred Astaire himself?

Fayard and Harold Nicholas, known collectively as the Nicholas Brothers, were arguably the best at what they did during their heyday. Their coordinated tap routines are legendary, not only because they were great dancers, but because of their incredible ability to jump into the air and land in the splits. Repeatedly. From impressive heights.

Their most famous routine comes from the movie "Stormy Weather." As Cab Calloway sings "Jumpin' Jive," the Nicholas Brothers make the entire set their dance floor, hopping and tapping from podium to podium amongst the musicians, dancing up and down stairs and across the top of a piano.

But what makes this scene extra impressive is that they performed it without rehearsing it first and it was filmed in one take—no fancy editing room tricks to bring it all together. This fact was confirmed in a conversation with the brothers in a Chicago Tribune article in 1997, when they were both in their 70s:

"Would you believe that was one of the easiest things we ever did?" Harold told the paper.

"Did you know that we never even rehearsed that number?" added Fayard.

"When it came time to do that part, (choreographer) Nick Castle said: 'Just do it. Don`t rehearse it, just do it.' And so we did it—in one little take. And then he said: 'That's it—we can't do it any better than that.'"

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