He Flogs Dead Horses, Doesn't He?

Posted by jdg | Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On this site, the idea that Detroit does have grocery stores and outlets for fresh produce (despite a national and local media repeatedly stating otherwise) is kind of a dead horse. Well, today I am kicking the shit out of that dead horse over at Aaron M. Renn's excellent Urbanophile blog. Aaron's blog consistently has a fresh and interesting take on urban affairs and policy that's neither too fussy or academic (nor focused on easy answers like the corporate media). It's always a worthwhile read and I'm honored that Aaron asked me to write on a topic of my choice, in this case finally putting to rest the myth that Detroit has no supermarkets.

The heart of my argument is this, and if you're at all interested be sure to follow the link:

The myth of a city without supermarkets is hard to kill, even faced with [overwhelming evidence that Detroit has them]. Ultimately, the myth perseveres because the mainstream media and its audience are steeped in a suburban mentality where the only grocery stores that really seem to count are those large, big-box chain stores that are the only option in so many communities these days, largely because they have put locally-owned and independent stores like the ones you find in Detroit out of business. It is true that the big chain stores have forsaken or ignored Detroit, for any number of understandable (and sometimes despicable) reasons. But in their absence, a diverse system of food options has risen to take their place, and the tired old narrative that Detroit has nowhere to shop for groceries needs to be replaced by a more complex truth: with a diversity of options ranging from the dismal to the sublime, Detroit may be one of the most interesting places in America to shop for food.

In that vein, I am also sharing one of my favorite vintage kid's books over here (even though I just put up the post about the Lutheran Sex Ed Book a few days ago). This one is called Night Markets and shows all the hard work that goes into getting food from farmers and distributors into the stores, restaurants, and homes of a big city (in this case, New York). Detroit's Eastern Market operates much the same way, and it is frequently ignored whenever someone repeats that falsehood about Detroit as a food desert with nowhere to shop for groceries.

I hope to have a new post up here at Sweet Juniper soon.