On a recent trip to the grocery store, I was confronted by an illicit practice that had me in a pensive frame of mind. It was blatant, hurtful and downright wrong! The Grove Hall Mecca, in Dorchester, MA, the checkpoint between Roxbury and Dorchester, where Warren Street meets Blue Hill Avenue, is where the injustice took place. In Grove Hall, there are several businesses; one of them is Stop & Shop.
This landmark of a national food store is inthe proverbial core, the “Mecca” for African-Americans, sitting on the convergence of the two aforementioned towns. I entered through the slow-opening automatic doors, with two babies sitting in the carriage, I went in, in search of quality “organic” fruits to feed my children and was utterly shocked and disappointed to learn that this location does not carry organic products. “What!?” I asked the Grocery Manager, Peter. He gave me a poor prejudicial excuse saying that “people don’t spend the extra money on organic in this part of town and it goes to waste, so they’d rather not carry it.” I understand about the waste part but, to say that people in this part of town don’t buy organic is just unacceptable. I’m a part of this part of town and I’m a part of these people. If I didn’t feel that I could go to the Grove Hall Stop & Shop, for my convenience and expect the same quality of produce and products that I could get elsewhere, I surely wouldn’t have been there. It was painfully clear that I was basically told that Blacks don’t by organic!
NOT TRUE! I know several people from my diaspora that exclusively buy organic. They do it because of the several health benefits, the taste is superior, the way it treats your insides is a lot better than non-organic foods. The issue is cost. Organic foods are 70 cents to $1 more than conventional foods. The higher rates also includes meats, vegetables and grains. Organic = Hands On, so it’s more personal labor and not machine so it costs more to produce it and more for us to buy it.
After looking around in the store under a faded-spell of hope, I packed the boys back in the truck and drove about two miles to South Bay Stop & Shop. As soon as I walked in I was greeted with a big sign “Organic Blueberries” then I saw another sign, “Organic Strawberries”, these were exactly what I was looking for. I usually go to the South Bay store anyway because its closer but, I said let me go to Grove Hall since I was in the area, not anymore.
There are reports from universities and hospitals about studies done on the affects of foods in Urban versus Suburban communities. The findings are disturbing but, not surprising. In Urban areas you have fast food and liquor stores next to each other, in the Suburbs not so much. So not only do African-Americans not have access to healthier Organic foods, we’re exposed to being abundantly overfed and inebriated at an easier rate than our well-to-do friends. There are ways to get these institutions out of the hood; it’s called “Don’t shop there anymore!” When they can’t afford to stay where they are, they leave and go elsewhere or out of business altogether. We must demand better for ourselves and our children. Although, urban development initiatives shelter the fast food and liquor stores in our communities with “certain” monies to keep them afloat, it’s still up to us to not let them keep us unhealthy and drunk at discounted rates.
Maybe with all of the re-zoning and re-redistricting going on in Boston, we can get some organic produce in the hood? Hey they’re taking our votes so why not have something beneficial in exchange?
So, my conclusion is that in order to eat healthy, you have to shop outside of urban areas and shop where the potential for white-consumerism is higher. I’m going to start up a ‘protest-for-produce’ campaign, who’s with me?
I think I’ll write a letter and sign it….