The Past, Present, and Future of the Food Economy in Detroit

“You can free yourself when you can feed yourself.”

AnnaMarie Sysling/WDET

Detroit has a long history of food insecurity in the city’s black neighborhoods.

One year after the 1967 Rebellion, Focus: HOPE, an organization that was created in response to the unrest of that year, administered a Consumer Survey to explore if low-income shoppers pay more for their groceries than suburbanites. Results of the study revealed that not only do the poor pay more for groceries, but that they pay more for poorer quality food.

Reporter Brittany Hutson looked into what has changed, and what hasn’t, in the 50 years since the survey was done.  Her upcoming story will air next week as part of WDET’s partnership with the Feet in Two Worlds fellowship, which is part of WDET’s Detroit Storymakers initiative aimed at empowering local storytellers in bringing Detroit’s stories to life.

Hutson joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk about her reporting.

Henderson also speaks with Dr. Monica White, a Detroit native and author of the book “Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement.”

Through most of American history, the narrative around land cultivation, or farming, and African Americans is one of exploitation and oppression. White is devoted to changing that by offering up an alternative, which is presented in her book.

She writes that the “post agricultural society of the Jim Crow South left many black southerners homeless, unemployed and hungry in the same way that post industrial societies of the northern United States have left many black factory workers homeless, unemployed and hungry.”

What does that mean for people here in Detroit? And how are African American communities here and around the country reclaiming agriculture as a space and place to practice freedom?

Finally, Henderson speaks with Dan Carmody, president of Eastern Market Corporation, about what Eastern Market is doing to enhance the food economy in Detroit.

Click on the audio player above to hear those conversations.


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