Fresh locally-grown fruits and vegetables are available in Detroit. But, not where you might think.
Metro Foodland, located at 18551 Grand River Ave. in the Rosedale/Grandmont area of the city, recently opened a farm stand in front of the store and customers are lining up each weekend for a look-see.
There has been much talk locally and nationally about the idea of Detroit as a vast wasteland when it comes to fresh, healthy foods. Metro Foodland owner James Hooks is quick to point out the reality is much different from what many believe. “There are almost 80 grocery stores in Metro Detroit,” he says. “When I tell people that, they look at me like I made that up.”
“The truth is – there are retailers offering fresh produce and quality food in the city,“ he added. “The issue is, getting the same level of support as some of the big chains are being offered.”
Hooks is proud that he has taken more the 200 unhealthy items off of shelves and has begun several initiatives, like the farm stand to raise awareness of the benefits of eating right, particularly in the African-American community. “We made a decision to focus on health and wellness and educating our customers,” he said.
Metro Foodland also recently added a Healthy Rewards program, giving customers a chance to be rewarded for buying healthy items in the store. All part of this new, healthier focus in the community.
Each week, the farm stand is open each Wednesday through Sunday (weather permitting), featuring predominantly Michigan produce. The idea, the brainchild of Hooks, draws hundreds of people and goals to help the community while supporting Michigan farmers.
Since opening day, live music, local vendors, exercise and healthy cooking demonstrations have made Grand River a buzz with activity. Nutritional chef Shannon Wilson fires up the grill with turkey burgers and turkey sausage (made in the store) and fresh veggies. Within minutes of opening, the aroma from the grill draws the curious and the hungry to see what is going on.
Partially funded by a grant through the HUFED (Healthy Urban Food Enterprise Development) Foundation and the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), the stand will be operational throughout the summer and into the fall.
For more information on the Michigan/locally grown farm stand or the store’s Healthy Rewards program, visit its website.