We have it lucky in Ann Arbor with access to fresh food. With in a few miles of my house there is Plum Market, Kroger, Meijer, Arbor Farms, the Peoples food Coop, Kerry Town Market, Fresh Season (which may be relocating), and in season the Ann Arbor Wednesday and Saturday Market Farmer’s Market, and the Westside Farmers Market. A little further down the road is Bush’s, Trader Joes and two Whole Food Markets. And a new discount grocer is being built across the street on Maple and Dexter from Plum Market. Ann Arbor is a fresh food Oasis.
By contrast certain places in Detroit and other urban cities are “Food Deserts.” From an article from the metro times by Larry Gabriel:
According to the study, these are areas (food deserts)where fringe food locations — gas stations, liquor stores, party stores, dollar stores, bakeries, pharmacies and convenience stores — are … uh … more convenient than mainstream grocers. In fact, about 550,000 Detroiters, well over half the city population, live in out-of-balance areas where the nearest grocery store is twice as far away as the nearest fringe food location. Combine that with a lack of a good mass transit system and you have a nutrition drought. Those severely out-of-balance areas are defined as food deserts.
The study says that “unless access to healthy food greatly improves, residents will continue to have greater rates of premature illness and death.”
Detroit isn’t alone. Food and nutrition issues plague every major urban area in the United States. There are diabetes and obesity epidemics across the nation. But, as usual, national problems are magnified in Detroit.
“Detroit is unique in that there are more neighborhoods without this kind of access,” says Kami Pothukuchi, a professor of geography and urban planning at Wayne State University. “The extent of food deserts is smaller in other cities.”
Coming back from a trip to the Detroit’s Eastern Market, I thought how huge and abundant it was. The Eastern Market was probably 20-40 times the size of of Ann Arbor Farmers Market. I thought, Food Desert?, This is an Oasis.” But many do not have a car or access to the market.
Here are a few video of organizations who are trying to make a difference to help feed Detroit.