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Detroit as a Food Desert -- Another Urban Myth

The widespread belief that the city is a food desert is, like many myths about Detroit, simply not true.

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The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, a non-profit business promotion organization that employs two Detroit Revitalization Fellows, initiated the  Green Grocer Project (with funding from the Kresge Foundation), to help stores expand their fresh food offerings through assistance on loans, marketing, merchandising and customer service. The project also helped bring Whole Foods to town, and has launched an outdoor produce stand at the Metro Foodland supermarket in Northwest Detroit.

Additionally CDC (the Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation) runs a year-round indoor produce stand,  Peaches and Greens, in the Central Woodward community, and a produce truck that travels to many low-income neighborhoods during the growing season.

“The food scene in Detroit is very grassroots, not just upper middle class people like in some places,” explains Wayne State Urban Studies professor KamiPothukuchi.

She directs  Seed Wayne — an initiative to promote fresh foods on campus with a weekly farmer’s market, community gardens, rooftop gardens and educational research—as well as  Detroit Fresh, a project to bring healthier foods to corner stores throughout the city.

As we sat together at the Farmer’s Market—looking out more than a dozen vendors selling everything from vegetables grown on city farms to bread baked in the neighborhood to ice cream and cheesecake made from sweet potatoes — Pothukuchi says, “Our point is not to beat up people about what they eat, but to show what else is available. We want to connect people to the source of their foods.”

Citistates Associate Jay Walljasper is author of The Great Neighborhood Book and All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons. His website:

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