Can Americas Urban Food Deserts Bloom?
Inside the supermarket, uniformed workers are stacking pineapples into neat rows across from bundles of fresh mustard greens, tamarind pods and nopalitos – sliced cactus ears common in Mexican dishes. In much of the country, Farmers Best Market would not be an extraordinary sight. But here on 47th Street, a gritty stretch of Chicago’s South Side flush with Golden Arches and purveyors of Colt 45 Malt Liquor, the store is an oasis. It’s also raising an intriguing proposition: Can an inner-city supermarket profitably specialize in fresh produce and meats – and, ultimately, be a model solution to urban America’s health crisis? For years, major supermarket chains have been criticized for abandoning densely populated, largely black and Latino communities in cities like Detroit, Los Angeles, Memphis and Newark, N.J. – contributing to what many experts call food deserts. Many of these communities are, quite literally, starving for broader and healthier food options beyond the seemingly ubiquit