Detroit Gets Serious About Local Food

Detroit is undergoing a profound transformation.  To get a sense of it, click on the image at the right to see a residential neighborhood 3 miles from the downtown (the equivalent distance from the Battery to Penn Station for New Yorkers or from Downtown Crossing to the Back Bay/Fens, for Bostonians).  Given this context, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman takes a look at how Detroit is using local food as a revitalization tool:

Here, local food isn’t just hip, it’s a unifying factor not only among African-Americans and whites but between them. Food is an issue on which it seems everyone can agree, and this is a lesson for all of us.

“The idea,” says Malik Yakini, a school principal who runs the two-acre D-Town Farm, “is to help black people stand up, to demonstrate that creating reality is not the exclusive domain of white people — without pointing fingers at white people.” The farm, located in Rouge Park — the city’s biggest — will soon double in size.

Yakini, the chairman of the Detroit Food Policy Council, which is holding its first conference this week, gave me a tour on the eve of spring planting while a dozen African-American volunteers steadily raked a sizable plot. “The farm can empower, drive the economy, reduce our carbon footprint and give us better food,” he said. “And we’re influencing young white people too, because they can see that.”

And how. During the 48 hours I spent in Detroit, I met enthusiastic black, white and Asian people, from age 10 to over 60, almost all of whom agreed that food is the key to the new Detroit.

Very interesting take on how local food can matter to more than just the overprivileged.  You can read the full column here.

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