December 2 2009
Listen: For Meet The Need, Day 24 of 50, we spend a few minutes with the Fondy Food Center, a group that approaches our city's geographical disparities in food access, most notably, through its farmer's market just north of the intersection of North Avenue and Fond Du Lac.
When I'm giving somebody a tour of Milwaukee, showing them the city for their first time, I always take them to Fondy's Market. I do this primarily because the market is good looking, it's directly adjacent to some of my other favorite Milwaukee landmarks (Evelyn Patricia Terry's bus shelter on North and Legacy Bank), and it's kind of a surprise. Coming from the east on North Avenue, after the Pick 'N' Save on Humboldt, there is only one full-fledged grocery store (Galst, between 16th and 17th), so a farmer's market with beautiful stalls and overhangs is definitely eye catching. And of course, if it happens to be on a Saturday morning, there are the beautiful vegetables to look at (see below)
When considering food, we're often drawn to think about quality as a luxury. There are certain cases when I would agree with this -- when the food's price is determined by its marketing or sourcing. However, at an institution like Fondy's, it's clear that the quality of the produce is not a product of branding or a prescribed lifestyle or anything like that. If poverty, and as a result hunger, is an issue in your life, perhaps the easiest solution will do. You can feed yourself for very little money. However, what are the consequences of shopping for maximal impact without having a greater notion of health in mind? And what are the consequences of shopping locally, if all that's available nearby are corner stores and gas stations?
Lisa Kingery, Food and Nutrition Director at Fondy's, gives us a picture of how Fondy's attacks these problems:
-If you've never been to the Fondy Food Market on a busy Saturday morning in the middle of the busy summer months, you really ought to. For the benefit of the uninitiated, Lisa gives a snapshot of a typical Saturday morning:
-In Fondy's neighborhood, there aren't many other options for fresh produce and healthy groceries:
-In addition to providing a unique outlet for their neighbors, Fondy also provides a market for the area's influx of Hmong farmers to sell their products:
-This story is an illustration of an important point made above -- even owners of restaurants come to Fondy to buy high quality produce. Ask yourself -- can produce be too high quality for a person?