The topic of food justice greatly interests me, not only intellectually, but because it directly impacts my life. But, every time I hear about the Great Downtown Cincinnati Supermarket Crisis, I’m a bit puzzled. I don’t know that access to nutritious, reasonably priced food has ever been so easy for me.
As you probably already know, I don’t drive, so I do my grocery-shopping on foot. Sure, I’ve taken the bus to the IGA on Ludlow, Whole Foods in Rookwood, or East Walnut Hills Kroger, but that’s rare. Most of my food comes from Findlay Market and the Vine St. Kroger, augmented by jaunts to CVS, Garfield Market, etc. If you consider the whole basin, you can find practically anything you need. [You might have to walk a bit farther than you’d like, and forget about buying anything on Sunday nights.]
Since Kroger is headquartered downtown, there really should be an amazing flagship store right here [although, to be fair, the word “amazing” doesn’t describe any Kroger]. If I were in charge, this flagship would have, like, robots and moving sidewalks and new foods fresh out of the lab. Vegan goetta? Gooseberry juice? Yes! The local Kroger would test out new products and technologies, while serving as a family-friendly tourist attraction. Alas, I don’t think Kroger is that kind of forward-thinking company.
So, back to reality. In my two years here, the Vine St. Kroger has expanded its selection of foods I like. For instance, it now carries Peanut Butter & Co. peanut butter and Knudsen juices. At least a few people, including myself, have talked to the staff about carrying healthier foods, and it’s a baby step that seems to have worked. So, if you live in the basin, I encourage you to shop at this Kroger and show that there’s demand for these kinds of foods.
Side note about the Vine St. Kroger — I’ve heard from many [white] people that they feel threatened and/or have been harassed outside the store. Maybe I’m just lucky and/or not paying attention, but I don’t think I’ve been treated any worse there than I have at Avril & Bleh’s, where the staff eyes me suspiciously, as though I’m about to steal mustard [which used to annoy me until I decided that it’s actually pretty funny].
Side note about Avril & Bleh’s — sure, the new market next door is a great addition to my Walk Score, but the split between two stores is beyond stupid. And the place is closed on Mondays!
Speaking of my Walk Score, Bang’s Market shows up as my nearest grocery store. But what if I need something other than incense or diapers or a 40? Bang’s will only carry what I want if I shop there on a regular basis. But, I don’t and won’t, so I can’t really complain that my corner market is actually five blocks away.
Why am I rambling about all this? A few days ago, I made my first trip to Findlay in probably a month and was thrilled to find Covington’s Bean Haus in the market building. The best part is that they sell skim milk by the gallon, which I’ve always bought at a chain drugstore downtown. Apparently, as soon as they opened, there was demand for their milk, which they stocked for their drinks. So, they started selling it, and voila! I’ve just saved myself a trip in the opposite direction, and I can buy my milk from a friendly, independent business for a fairly reasonable price.
I don’t expect to see a suburban-style mega-supermarket in downtown Cincinnati anytime soon. In fact, I hope it doesn’t happen. I do hope that my neighbors patronize Findlay, Kroger, and the various corner markets, and that our grocery dollars encourage these stores to stock a better variety of nutritious foods. And maybe even expand their hours? Direct action works, and the Bean Haus example should prove inspiring.