The state of grocery stores in most New York neighborhoods is, as most residents know, atrocious. If you live anywhere farther out than the Upper West Side, Red Hook or West Harlem’s beautiful Fairways, you’re out of luck getting good produce and prepared products in one place for a cheap price.
Key Foods, Met Marts, and even the more posh Gristedes that abound in much of Manhattan and the outer boroughs are in varying states of disarray. When I lived in Crown Heights, I had to walk ten blocks to the closest Met Mart where finding a head of unwilted romaine lettuce was a small miracle.
Research and reporting suggest that this comparative dismal state of grocery stores in New York is more than coincidental. Low-income neighborhoods have a dearth of healthy food at their local markets, which has long-term implications on an upsurge of diseases like childhood and adult obesity and Type II diabetes.
A recent report by the City of New York acknowledged this need for supermarkets to be extended throughout the city. The report found that residents in certain areas of New York lacked access to decent nutrition based on a scarcity of markets. The neighborhoods most affected include Washington Heights, Central Harlem and East Harlem in Manhattan; East New York and Bushwick in Brooklyn; and Jamaica and Far Rockaway in Queens, to name only a few.
Interestingly enough, according to an article by The New York Post, the instances of the most childhood obesity occur in neighborhoods like East New York and Brooklyn, while kids in (surprise) the Upper West Side tend to be the least affected in the city.
There is evidence that the scarcity of good stores is tunring into the scarcity of stores in general in the city, as many buildings are turning into luxury condos as gentrification is on the upswing.
This issue is too important in terms of quality of life and structure inequality for New York City residents to let all these warning signs pass unheeded.