After hearing about Whole Food opening in the Englewood neighborhood in Chicago, I began hearing people not thrilled about the idea… If you haven’t heard:
Whole Foods Market has agreed to open an 18,000-square-foot store in the Englewood neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side in 2016, according to a release from the city.
The company is expected to detail plans for new store, which could bring 100 jobs to the economically struggling neighborhood, at an event Wednesday morning. Englewood has been called a “food desert” because of its lack of grocery stores and limited access to fresh foods.
I understand both sides of the story… well mostly. I’ve heard the topic of gentrification brought up. The idea that a Walmart should be brought in this area because the “type” of inhabitants is simply insane. Does Englewood not deserve the best of the best? And I’m sure many residents travel the distance to existing Whole Foods already! Why not expose those most in need of healthy food to hte best of the best? Let us not forget Walmart’s employees have no choice but to shop back at Walmart basically because they cannot afford much more… But Whole Food is a socially conscience store that does give back to the community.
Now it is important to remember Englewood is a food desert… Meaning: “an area, typically a populous urban environment, in the industrialized world where healthy, affordable food is difficult to obtain” Key word…. Healthy & Affordable. Many disagree that Whole Food is not affordable… As a shopper, I ask is it really THAT much more expensive? I think not. Here is another article from a blog that compares a few of Whole Food’s Prices with Safeway. Survey says it is only slightly more expensive with greater selection and better quality.
The only problem I would have that this move be a sign that gentrification is coming. The problem I have with this would be by 2016 the city could change the neighborhood and in a sense “kick out” the current residents to bring in what is called the “target audience” for whole food. This is a problem because what could benefit the residents in turn, displaces them only to put them in another food desert to consume high fructose corn syrup and red dye #40 in everything all over again. This also causes a sense of anger. Displacement makes people feel less than worthy, less than human and in turn creates other issues like violence (see my article on a provisional existence)…
One important thing is who will the contractors be working on the store? WIll it be local contractors from the community or outsiders coming in? According to Whole Food on Twitter:
“The retail portion of the 13acre site will be developed by DL3 and will definitely be working with locals.”
I’d question the motives behind this opening, if it is truly to benefit the current residents then.. *applause*
I asked FB what they thought also and in the first hour this was the conversation:
What say you?