Although stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have helped to promote a healthy diet and lifestyle to the masses, the unfortunate reality is that often times, these stores are out of reach for lower income residents and communities. But thanks to a new program by GrowNYC, in collaboration with Red Jacket Orchards, the typical bodega fare will now be more healthier. The initiative, Fresh Bodegas, aims to regularly deliver fresh produce and products from the Wholesale Greenmarket and Red Jacket’s farm to bodegas all over the city. Four bodegas in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn are piloting the new program this summer.
The four bodegas in Bedford-Stuyvesant will be stocked with fresh local fruits and vegetables from upstate’s Red Jacket Orchards and other produce from the Wholesale Greenmarket in the Bronx. The program will not only help local residents by supplying them with a healthier and fresh alternative, but will also support local bodega business owners and farmers.
“Everybody loves a fresh, juicy apple, but in many parts of the city, convenient access to farm fresh produce is inconvenient or simply does not exist,” said Marcel Van Ooyen, GrowNYC’s Executive Director, in a report by Gothamist. In essence, he’s right. Although you might find organic and locally grown products in grocery stores around increasingly gentrified areas of Williamsburg and Bushwick, this certainly isn’t the norm.
The GrowNYC Fresh Bodegas website states:
Fresh Bodegas will build the infrastructure to provide New York City residents with access to affordably priced, locally grown produce at the stores where they already shop. The installation of refrigerators featuring exclusively farm fresh products in participating stores will expand the floor space designated for healthy foods and maximize the display of local products. The refrigerators will be branded by Greenmarket and Red Jacket Orchards to endorse a healthier option alongside the coolers put in place by corporations who sell soft drinks, alcohol, and junk food in highly-trafficked neighborhood shops.
The four bodegas leading the way this summer in the initial phases of the program are: Bedford Express Deli at 1043 Bedford Ave, 5J Deli Grocery Corp at 925 Marcy Ave, Greene Ave Supermarket at 664 Greene Ave, and Si Grocery at 1082 DeKalb Ave. The pilot program also seek to educate bodega owners on food handling and sustainable agriculture practices.
Given how lower income neighborhoods in NYC are seeing a rise in health epidemics related to poor eating habits, this is definitely good news. It will also provide a chance to improve a common, but often times neglected staple of New York City life – the bodega. By making alternative, more healthy food options readily available in local bodegas, the project has the potential of impacting the health conscious of NYC residents in all communities, from the ground up. Hopefully, the program will prove successful and continue to expand throughout the city.
Lead Photo © EssG
All photos © Benben via Creative Commons