This post is part of my ongoing response to lazy journalists like Mr. Hansen who love to echo silly hyperbole because it's so shocking (whether or not it's actually true). This is just a humble post about how we manage not to starve to death here in the city of Detroit despite a lack of national chains. "But where do you shop?!" is a question I get all the time when people find out we're raising a family in Detroit. It's a question I remember asking myself back in the late 90s when I first started coming here to visit a house full of artists, musicians, and urban gardeners that my friend knew well. I remembered mentioning some hand-wringing magazine article I'd read about "food deserts." But of course what I really wondered was, How far do you have to drive to get to the Kroger? This presumes, of course, that national chains are the best place to buy groceries. Over the last few years I've learned that's not at all true, and sometimes it's a good thing that Detroit doesn't have any large chain supermarkets. Honey Bee Market La Colmena is a good example why.
A few days after we moved into our current house, some kindly neighbors brought over a 64 oz container of fresh salsa and bag of house-made tortilla chips from Honey Bee Market La Colmena. From the first bite, we were hooked. I sat down the other day with Ken Koehler and his wife Tammy Alfaro-Koehler outside their Detroit grocery store, and they cracked open a tub of the same fresh salsa and a bag of their chips while we chatted about the history of the store. It felt just right.
[This is a long post with a lot of photos, so click to continue reading on a separate page]