Monday, July 26, 2010

Detroit food desert

An abandoned food market in Detroit

I live in a mostly White community. There are certain privileges to that such as being within walking distance of at least ten grocery stores and three farmer's markets and one discount grocery store. In the city of Detroit, a mostly Black city, there are no chain grocery stores, a few discount grocery stores and hundreds of corner stores which sell what is described as inferior and over-priced food items.


Detroit is known as a food desert. And almost all food deserts are located in majority minority communities.

The city of Detroit lost its last two legitimate grocery stores in 2007. Since then the city has tried to attract large chain grocery stores to no avail. Detroiters with transportation can shop at suburban grocery stores. But those without transportation are forced to shop at either the local convenience store or discount markets.

How can a city survive much less thrive when healthy affordable food is so scarce? How can those with health concerns survive with few healthy food choices? And how can children be expected to be healthy and thrive when they don't have access to healthy food?

Urban farming in Detroit

The Detroit city government has been talking about urban farming as a way to solve this problem. But I doubt that that can solve the problem entirely. So I'm wondering why the city doesn't open its own grocery stores? Not only would it solve the problem of Detroiters not having access to healthy and affordable food but that would also create jobs.

Cities create and operate power companies, public transportation companies and libraries for the public good, so why not grocery stores?

Anyway, I stumbled upon an article about this and was saddened for the people of Detroit. I have, in the past, taken for granted the variety of choices I have to buy food but I won't be in the future.


25 comments:

Felicia Monique said...

This phenomenon also occurs in the poorer communities in San Francisco--Bayview/Hunter's Point (BVHP) and Visitacion Valley (or Portola Valley). In BVHP, there are several liquor stores, small, overpriced convenient stores, and one grocery store that sells lower quality foods.

I am always saddened by the lack of choices some people have to buy quality and fresh foods in their own neighborhoods. And our society wonders why urban kids have problems in school and with obesity. You are what you (are forced to) eat!

Thanks for staying on top of what's truly important!

Kingsmomma said...

Detroit shuld be filled with Trader Joes. That's crazy. I couldn't imagine shopping at a deli.

Jason said...

Reading this made me feel grateful for the variety of places in the DC area to shop for food. Hell, they are building a brand new Harris Teeter directly around the corner from where I live. The DCG needs to get it together with the quicks!

? said...

Thanks for posting this. I volunteer with an organization that works to fight food desserts. It's a huge problem in many inner city areas where, even if there are grocery stores in the city, many inner city residents cannot reach them due to transportation issues.

I've also been involved in urban gardening and been to other cities who have developed their own urban gardening systems. Unfortunately, during the non-growing months (if you live in seasonal climate) there's not much that can be done.

As far as Detroit opening its own grocery stores...I'm not sure if it's possible. The city is already burdened with a tremendous amount of problems, and I'm not entirely sure if the government there is up to the task, to be quite frank.

Don said...

*sticks head inside Val's blog to make sure shots aren't still being fired*

I clicked upon two links trying to read the articles but they were broken. But I must add that it's scary that a supposed major metropolitan city (where I was born) has no major grocery chains. I mean, how does that even happen? Is there no such thing as infrastructure in the city?

As bad as Milwaukee Wisconsin was when I last visited, they have serious business taking place in different parts. Mainly the rich white folks areas. *ahem*


Detroit is scary when you really sit and think about it. A job for Superman?

BigmacInPittsburgh said...

If our politicans were not so busy trying to enriched themselves,with riches and fame and glory,they would be focus on the issues you brought forth.
But then again when,just when are we going to stop blaming other people,places for our circumstances,there comes a time when we have to take responsibility for our lives!
We seem to be able to do everything that we desire,but the right thing.

Moanerplicity said...

I don't understand how such a situation can still exist, especially in a major urban area in this country. It's almost diabolical, in fact.

Had the area experienced the same degree of gentrification, like Harlem NY, for instance, suddenly you wouldn't be able to KEEP the chains away. And very same resources that many in other areas tend to take for granted, would be plentiful!

It's sad and very telling how the powers that be continue to keep the poor, the disaffected and people of color under their relentless boot!


One.

Reggie said...

My wife is a Detroiter, so I've been through "The D" many times. I also have a whole boatload of family still there......as do most of the other people of color in the country probably. I have a few cousins that I regularly check in with.

What happened to Farmer Jacks?!?

I'd noticed though that there weren't a whole lotta big grocery stores there. I seem to remember seeing Kroger's and Farmer Jacks there, but most of my cousins shop at those local corner stores and their neighborhood meat market.

It is kinda different from what I'm used to. Right now I live within reasonable walking distance from a few grocery stores....but I live in the suburbs.

Detroit as I knew it when I was growing up....ain't coming back.

Val said...

@Felicia Monique

Yep, there are quite a few areas in San Francisco that are food deserts. The Tenderloin is def one too.

Val said...

@Kingsmomma

In one of the articles I read it said that they tried to get a Trader Joe's. But Trader Joe's wasn't interested.

Val said...

@Jason

Yeah some communities seem to have an overabundance of food outlets and others not so much.

Val said...

@?

Yeah I saw something on PBS a while back about the Bronx and the lack of grocery stores there too. I think maybe this needs to be tackled on a National level. Hopefully Michelle Obama will make this part of her healthy kids initiative.

You're right about Detroit. But they have to start to think outside of the box if the city is to survive.

And that's good stuff that you are part of the solution.

Val said...

@Don

I checked the links and they seem okay. Let me know which ones you had a problem with.

I think that when Whites fled the city so did a lot of businesses. And unfortunately many never came back.

Val said...

@BigMac

"If our politicans were not so busy trying to enriched themselves,with riches and fame and glory,they would be focus on the issues you brought forth."

Yep. Kwame Kilpatrick spent his time focusing on being the man rather than the man of the people. Shameful.

Val said...

@Lin

It is hard to believe but this is like the red-lining that banks have done in Black communities. Except it's grocery chains doing it instead of banks.

Val said...

@Reggie

The last two Farmer Jack's closed in 2007. Since then nothing.

And shopping at corner stores is very expensive. Not to mention unhealthy.

Desertflower said...

So much injustice in the world! and all the homeless parents and children too?

When are we gonna step up and right,or try to begin to right, this society's many ills? I wonder???

Val, I don't write too much due to the reactions to the chemo,and also my sight gets blurry, but I always read you guys even though I may not be up to commenting.

This post made me think of persons that, like me, may also be undergoing chemo, (or simply have special dietary needs) and the special tastes and food likes and dislikes that one develops.

God help us the poor!

Val said...

@Desertflower

First, it's great to hear from you! I've missed you!

I agree, this situation is especially hard on anyone with special dietary needs. That's another reason I think city governments and even city health departments should be involved with solving this problem.

Citizen Ojo said...

Good one Val, very informative.

Penny Wize said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Penny Wize said...

Maybe 'they' don't view it as 'their' problem, but can someone with some moolah in or near these areas (Detroit Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings, etc.) step up to the plate to help make a difference? Can't count on the government so how else can we fix this mess? This is ridiculous..

Val said...

@CO

Thanks.

Val said...

@Penny Wize

"...can someone with some moolah in or near these areas (Detroit Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings, etc.) step up to the plate to help make a difference?"

Now that is the idea of the day! And it could be all of them getting together and making it happen. And you could throw Eminem, Aretha, Kid Rock and any other Detroit celeb into the mix too.

Reggie said...

Yeah, they're unhealthy. Mostly their diet consists of 40 ounces, Salems, White Owls that have been altered and chicken wings.

Nah, I never said they were healthy.

Val said...

@Reggie

That's depressing.

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Soldier Of Love

I've lost the use of my heart
But I'm still alive
Still looking for the life
The endless pool on the other side
It's a wild wild west
I'm doing my best

I'm at the borderline of my faith,
I'm at the hinterland of my devotion
In the frontline of this battle of mine
But I'm still alive

I'm a soldier of love.
Every day and night
I'm soldier of love
All the days of my life

I've been torn up inside (oh!)
I've been left behind (oh!)
So I ride
I have the will to survive

In the wild wild west,
Trying my hardest
Doing my best
To stay alive

I am love's soldier!

I wait for the sound
(oooh oohhh)

I know that love will come (that love will come)
Turn it all around

I'm a soldier of love (soldier of love)
Every day and night
I'm a soldier of love
All the days of my life

I am lost
But I don't doubt (oh!)
So I ride
I have the will to survive

In the wild wild west,
Trying my hardest
Doing my best
To stay alive

I am love's soldier!

I wait for the sound

I know that love will come
I know that love will come
Turn it all around

I'm a soldier of love
I'm a soldier

Still waiting for love to come
Turn it all around
(4x)

I'm a soldier of love
I'm a soldier

Still waiting for love to come
Turn it all around
(3x)

Still waiting for love to come

Miss Keri Baby!

Tracee!

Solange!

Solange!
The only interesting Knowles

un·for·get·ta·ble: Earning a permanent place in the memory; memorable: an unforgettable experience.

Alicia says...

Rest in Peace Mitrice

Rest in Peace Mitrice
Mitrice Richardson