Despite the flurry of stories related to Detroit's demise—its decision to file for bankruptcy, the mass exodus of its residents and the city's high crime rates—it's also home to a burgeoning organic foods industry.
Commonly described as a so-called "food desert", Detroit has for decades been without a national grocery store chain in operation. Locals have often had to rely on the processed snacks found on the shelves of their corner liquor stores in order to feed themselves.
But the city's first Whole Foods opened this June, and despite doubts that residents would embrace an upscale organic grocery store, the chain is seeing booming business at its midtown Detroit location, according to Al-Jazeera America.
Akua Woolbright, a senior healthy eating and wellness educator at Whole Foods, told the Detroit News, "People here already had a strong foundation around food and nutrition—much stronger than I anticipated, and stronger than I’ve found in a number of other cities."
In fact, in a recent study conducted of the top 10 U.S. metro areas for natural and organic foods, Detroit came in at number five, the only metro area between coasts to make the list.
But a single grocery store can't meet the demands of all of Detroit's residents. For those who aren't able to drive to Whole Foods' midtown location, smaller organic food delivery services are picking up the slack.
No-committment subscription options are available, like Door-to-Door Organics, which delivers farm-fresh produce within the city on a weekly basis. Others, like Peaches and Greens, a small produce market, drive vans full of vegetables and fruits through the streets, stopping to sell them to residents, just like an ice cream truck—but obviously with far healthier options.
Detroit joins other metro areas across the country that are devising creative ways to bring fresh foods to city residents who otherwise wouldn't have easy access to them. For instance, in Oakland, CA the Healthy Neighborhood Stores Alliance sells fresh organic produce out of corner liquor stores. And in South Central Los Angeles, continuing efforts to grow community gardens and establish farmers' markets have replaced previous attempts to lure big box grocery store chains to the area.