Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Familiarizing herself with her surroundings, Patty Cake went to a few local grocery stores in search of a place to pick up a few items if she ever ran out of something.

She was amazed by the lack of nutritious food.

She saw no bottled water, fresh fruit or vegetables----milk that wasn’t flavored?


“Woody all of the food is shit. It's high calorie, high fat junk food. There’s nothing in these stores to eat.”

I just looked at her.

What was I supposed to say?

The ‘Cake lives in a food desert.

The nearest “real” grocery store that I could think of is The Jewel at the corner of 76th & Stony Island.

Note: a “real” grocery store is a store with fresh produce, meat and milk. Not one who’s entire shelf space is stocked with flaming hot cheetos, yoo-hoo and hog head cheese.

The Jewel was over 12 blocks west as the crow flies.

Now for Patty Cake that isn’t a big deal as she has a car and can strap Baby Cake in the car seat and go about her business.

For those of us who don’t have a car or a willing chauffeur, public transportation is the only other option.

Let me tell you that keeping your perishables cold while waiting 30 minutes on a bus during a sweltering day can be a bit challenging.

Good luck toting around over $200 worth of food to the crib with sketchy characters mulling around.

But for God’s sake protect the beer at all costs.

Now remember that’s if you can plan a trip to the nearest grocery store and have the wherewithal to drag your groceries home.

At times, some people (read: me) pay for taxicabs or the store may have an in house livery service that ferries patrons back home for a modest fee. Unfortunately due to insurance reasons most of the larger chain stores have done away with this time honored tradition.

So what’s a person to do when they live in a food desert or they’re older with mobility problems or they just live too far away from the nearest grocery store?

They rely on the small local stores that thrive in both my and The ‘Cake’s neighborhood.

In turn their captive patronage is greeted by inadequately stocked, unattractive stores that do little to nurture the neighborhood literally or financially.

Now it’s one thing to charge three times the price for an item and justify it by saying that you can’t purchase at the same rates like the large chain stores, but it’s quite another to take all of your profits out of the community.

You make money off of the hoody hoo but can’t sponsor a Little League Team?

I’m sorry I didn’t mean to go all Marcus Garvey on you kids---I’ll get off my soap box now.

Oft times the unfortunate fact of living in a food desert is that the small independent grocery stores are usually owned by people whose only connection to the communities that they serve is a business license.

Let’s not even get started on the quality of the “food.”

Methinks if The ‘Cake runs out of milk for the baby, it just might be worth the investment in a dairy cow.

At least she’ll know the milk is fresh.


ChiKat said...

I've been to that Jewel, and even it is impacted by the "food desert" as you call it. All the Jewels in the nicer neighborhoods carry their own fresh baked bread, plus freshly baked Artisan bread.

The bakery at the Stony Island Jewel is a joke. They don't carry Artisan at all, and they rarely have fresh baked goods. How can families eat healthy when they don't have healthy options?

The Woodlawn Wonder said...


Solve your grocery issues with one word:


A working computer and an internet connection is all you need.

Since we pay crazy prices for groceries anyway, what's another $6.95 for someone to schlep it upstairs and bring it in your door?

If you sign up make sure you tell me so I can get a referral credit!