Whole Foods

Whole Foods vegetable aisle.
Erelster / flickr.com

When the popular organic grocer Whole Foods first opened in Midtown Detroit last year, there was loud applause that a major food seller would serve the city.

However, questions soon followed.

Why Whole Foods? Could the vast majority of Detroiters afford the upscale grocer? Whole Foods management indicated that it would work towards keeping its products affordable for low-income residents. Was is successful in executing this goal? 

Tune in to Stateside to find out the perspective of Tracie McMillan, author of the Food and Environment Reporting Network and  Slate.com piece “Can Whole Foods Change the Way Poor People Eat”, on these issues and more.

Recently, Suzette Hackney of POLITICO wrote an article that asked the question, “Is There Room for Black People in the New Detroit?” Her account begins at the corner of Agnes and Parker at a local restaurant where she describes seeing “designer dogs” and “tattooed millennials."

From her piece: 

The whole scene was a far cry from when I lived in the adjoining apartment building in the early 2000s... but this is the new Detroit.

I live in the neighborhood she describes, and even though Craft Work could be considered a “hip” establishment, I'm a little sad the area she described was reduced to a gentrified stereotype.

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There’s been a lot of buzz about the grocery chain Whole Foods opening a store in Midtown Detroit, maybe too much buzz.

The idea of Whole Foods, the store nicknamed by some as “Whole Paycheck,” being the first store in a city hit hard by poverty seems at best incongruent.

Kami Pothukuchi, associate professor of urban planning at Wayne State University, and Micki Maynard, contributor to Forbes.com and former Detroit reporter for the New York Times, joined us in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

We continued our look at energy in Michigan today with coal. DTE Energy's Skiles Boyd and the Sierra Club's Tiffany Hartung spoke with us about what is being done in Michigan to reduce coal emissions and move towards renewable energy.

Also, the new Whole Foods store in Midtown Detroit has garnered a lot of attention. We talked with Kami Pothukuchi and Micki Maynard about how the store has affected the area.

First on the show, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, meaning same-sex couples who are legally married will be recognized by the federal government. The court also ruled in a case that basically makes same-sex marriage in California legal.

But what does that mean for Michigan?

In 2004, voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriage or similar union. What’s the future of that amendment? What changes will there be for same-sex couples legally married in another state but living in Michigan?

Larry Dubin, a professor at the University of Detroit Mercy law school and Emily Dievendorf, the managing director of Equality Michigan, joined us today to discuss the issue.

Andrew Jameson / wikimedia commons

Marketplace, a national radio show on business, economics, and money "for the rest of us," was broadcasting from our studios last night.

Host Kai Ryssdal and his team were here to report on the Whole Foods opening in Midtown, an up-and-coming neighborhood in downtown Detroit.

At the opening, Ryssdal had a chance to interview Walter Robb, the CEO of Whole Foods.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Whole Foods announced today the store will open on June 5th in Detroit's Midtown neighborhood and will employ 75 people.

The store will be on the corner of John R and Mack, right off of Woodward Avenue.

The Associated Press reports details about job openings will be posted online April 2nd.

In the meantime, Whole Foods is holding informational meetings about jobs on March 5th, 6th, and 7th.

Parts of Detroit have been described as "food deserts," where access to healthy food can be a major problem. Whole Foods hopes to fill that void in Midtown.

The Austin, TX based chain received millions in tax breaks to build the store.

Some have questioned whether this is fair to other grocery stores operating in Detroit.

When it was announced that a Whole Foods would open in Detroit in 2011, Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra spoke with the competition:

Kim Smith lives in Detroit. Last year she opened Kim’s Produce, just a couple blocks over from where her competition will soon set up shop. As a resident of Detroit, she’s excited about Whole Foods coming to town:

"I mean that’s the question on everybody’s mind: When they move to Detroit, where am I gonna shop? So I think it is a really good thing for Detroit."

As for what Whole Foods will mean for her business?

"I don’t know. I really don’t know if we can really compete."

This morning, ground was broken for a new Whole Foods Market in Detroit -- and plenty of people are excited about it.

Detroit is commonly said to be underserved in terms of supermarkets, and has even been called a “food desert,” because of its perceived lack of stores selling things like fresh local produce.  Whole Foods bills itself as the world’s largest natural and organic food chain, and they’ve never had a store in the city.