September 19, 2013

The Food Desert: at Parkway Foods with Michael

"I think some people just look for fast food. Period."

What It Is
The Food Desert: Food Availability in Detroit is a multi-media examination of healthy food in the storied American city. Photographer Noah Stephens of The People of Detroit will bicycle to each of the city's 115 grocery stores, photograph each store's produce section, the staple produce offered therein (apples, oranges, and bananas were chosen as a barometer of the overall quality of produce in each store, and as a standardized way to compare stores to each other), and interview a patron of each store. The photos and interviews will then be added to a customized, searchable map. In doing so, Noah will:
  • Promote physical activity and sustainable transportation by biking the city's 143 square miles.
  • Promote healthy dietary choice by showing where healthy food is available.
  • Call attention to stores stocked with rotten produce and prod those stores into providing better options for their customers.
  • Create an unprecedentedly comprehensive visual survey of food availability in an economically-distressed, post-industrial American city. 

Get Involved
Noah works full-time on The People of Detroit and as a commercial photographer. As such, it will be impossible for him to dedicate the hundreds of hours it will take to complete this project without investment from people who believe this work is worthwhile. Speaking of, TPOD would like to thank Strategic Staffing Solutions for their support. Without their contribution, the initial leg of this project would not have been possible. 
  • If you are an institution that would like to promote health and fitness in urban communities, please contact Noah to discuss collaborating with this project:
  • If you are an individual or institution who would like to support the Food Desert project, you can make a secure donation in any amount via Paypal.

And, without further ado... 

The Food Desert: Parkway Foods

Parkway Foods, 13210 East Jefferson Avenue Detroit, MI 48215

Apples: $1.99/pound | Bananas: $.59/pound | Oranges: $1.98/pound

Community Profile for Zip Code 48215
Educational Attainment for persons older than 25-years:
Percent High School Graduate or Higher
Median Household Income
Unemployment Rate for persons age 16 years and older.
People Below Poverty Level
[19 percent lower than national rate of 93.0%]
[60% lower than national Median Household Income of $52,762]
[50 percent higher than the national rate of 9.6%]
[191 percent higher than the national rate of 15.0%]
Source: American Fact Finder courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau:

Interview: Michael

Concerning the availability of healthy food in Detroit:
"I think some people just look for fast food. Period. [...] Me, myself; I look for fruits and vegetables, even though I'm my size, I still try to eat healthy, and try to do the right thing."

Does the idea of a "food desert" align with your personal experience?
"Never had that problem. It's not a food desert. It's markets everywhere. Some of them, are undesirable; some of them you walk in, and it doesn't smell good. I've experienced a couple [markets like that] and I haven't been back..."
And if enough people do that, eventually, [that market] goes out of business

The Complete Interview

Noah's Thoughts

I agree. And now, for some watermelon:

...If you really would like to hear/read me pontificate in the manner that is my custom, go here, but quite franky, I feel Michael's perspective was spot-on. Tune in again, kind reader, for more dispatches from the food desert – where po' hapless Detroiters ain't got no choice but to eat rotten fruits and vegetables ... that I have thus far never seen in my life.

[View more of the Food Desert series]


Noah -

Noah Stephens  founded The People of Detroit Photodocumentary in April 2010 as a counterpoint to media fixated on despair and disrepair in the storied birthplace of American auto manufacturing. Since, TPOD has received national and international attention. Portraits from the project have appeared in Bloomberg BusinessWeek and other national publications. 

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