Tag Archive | Grand Rapids food desert

Downtown Market farmers’ market a well-heeled oasis in the food desert

Downtown Market Sign

Downtown Market Farmers’ Market signage. Is this a mixed message?

By Stelle Slootmaker, OKT Communications Officer

For the past three weeks, I have stopped at the Downtown Market farmers’ market to pick up my very generous CSA share from Green Wagon Farm.

On each occasion, I have been discouraged to note that much of the other food sold here is of the gourmet variety with very high prices. For example, goat cheese for $1 an ounce (that’s $16 a pound); 2 mini donut bites for $2; artisan bread, $6 a loaf; or organic blue eggs, $6 a dozen.

The shoppers that I’ve seen patronizing the market seem to be the type who can afford these prices. A large gathering of homeless and income challenged folks seem corralled in the park just a block away. But it may as well be miles.

That said, I have been able to find more reasonably priced items from Green Wagon, Visser Brothers, Creswick Farm and a few others–free range eggs for $3.00 and strawberries for $3.75 a quart. But would a person or family with income challenges feel comfortable shopping here? I doubt it.

In my opinion, this market is one more successful example of why we need an alternative to the existing food and agriculture system.

This market is thriving, as is big agribusiness and the food industry as a whole. But I doubt that it does much to provide “food desert” families access to healthy foods. A local blog, Food Deserted, asked the question, “Will this market serve the desert? Or, will it be an oasis that is too expensive for the poor?”

At my first glance, I am afraid the answer is the latter.