Detroit’s recent restaurant revival has brought plenty of attention to the city. Eateries such as Grey Ghost, Johnny Noodle King and Royale with Cheese have received national praise from food critics across the country.
However, Detroit’s growing restaurant scene has sparked dialogue about the lack of grocery stores within the city.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture has labeled 19 Detroit neighborhoods as a “food desert," which is a term used to describe an urban area that lacks accessibility to quality and affordable food.
The shortage of grocery stores creates an inflation in food prices and forces many residents to purchase food at convenience stores or settle for fast food.
Midtown resident Julian Vanhouzen, 22, said having no car makes it difficult to buy food.
“The closest store is Whole Foods, but it’s too expensive for my budget, so I have to walk about two miles if I want cheap groceries,” Vanhouzen said.
The challenges that Vanhouzen faces are not uncommon. The lack of a reliable transportation system in Detroit makes it difficult for those without a vehicle to obtain fresh, affordable food.
The increase in the number of urban farms in Detroit has aided in expanding access to food in many neighborhoods.
Programs such as Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, Michigan Farming Initiative and Keep Growing Detroit help create community centered farms in impoverished neighborhoods throughout the city. These urban farms provide employment to the residents of the community and often sell produce at wholesale prices.
Tyson Gersh, founder of Michigan Farming Initiative, said the organization is dedicated to the philosophy of increasing food security, being cost competitive and battling blight.
Long Michigan winters cause many urban farms to halt production for the season, creating a difficult situation for those who rely on them for food
Joely Reznik, a WSU freshman, said, “I think that these urban farms are amazing, but many of the smaller community farms have to close for the winter or don’t have enough resources to make it through the winter harvest.”
Eastern Market tries to combat this issue by opening its Saturday markets year-round and providing a shuttle service.
Josefina Diaz-Orsi, a 19-year-old Detroit native, said that she’s been going to E & L Supermercado in southwest Detroit since she was a baby. She said she enjoys supporting a local business that provides fresh produce at “fairly cheap” rates.
“I think it’s important to support independent stores like this one,” said Diaz-Orsi, “E & L and other independent stores stayed in Detroit when no one else would.”
However, she, like many other Detroiters, wish there were more options to purchase food in order to feed themselves and their families.
Here are some grocery stores near WSU:
● University Food Center- 1131 W Warren Ave.
● Whole Foods 115 Mack Ave.
● Eastern Market Food Pride Market- 500 E Warren Ave.
● E & L Supermercado-6000 Vernor Highway.
● Honey Bee La Colmena-2443 Bagley Ave.
● Papaya Food Market-16322 W Warren Ave.
● Gratiot Center Market-1429 Gratiot Ave.
● Grace Food Market -3575, 11825 Woodward Ave. (Highland Park)