Detroit photographer Noah Stephens has aimed to show a different side of the city from what frequently makes it into national press, highlighting its interesting, motivated and beautiful people in his portraiture project "The People of Detroit." Now, he's using photography to address another negative portrayal of Detroit: that it is a "food desert" where residents struggle to access fresh produce.
Media accounts that Detroit had no national chain grocery stores (currently false, and a Whole Foods and Meijer store are under construction with the help of subsidies) have been shot down as residents and organizations stepped in to refute the claim. Last September, a report by think tank Data Driven Detroit found 115 full-service grocery stores in the city, not including the large and busy Eastern Market.
But the existence of stores doesn't guarantee a wide selection of fresh produce and healthy foods, nor that they are accessible to residents in a city with a significant lack of public transportation.
So Stephens is going further, setting out to document the city's grocery stores, 111 at his count, with his camera. He aims to create a "visual survey of the food landscape," a project for which he's raising funds on Kickstarter. In just eight weeks, he plans to photograph every grocery store, its produce, shoppers and the routes they take to get there from their homes. He will also interview individuals about their food choices and shopping habits, resulting in a website and photo book.
For Stephens, the project is not just about combatting negative views of the city. Strongly influenced by his own background and family history, Stephens is aiming to determine whether Detroiters' food options are restricted by access or choice, as he explains on Kickstarter:
I've witnessed the relationship between diet and illness first hand. I've watched poor diet cripple and eventually kill the people closest to me. That's had a profound affect on my behavior as an adult.
Since I've been a grown-up, I've lived on the westside of Detroit, in the Cass Corridor, downtown, and on the east side near the historic Indian Village neighborhood. I've never been rich (I actually grew up on welfare), yet I've always managed to maintain a healthy diet, supplied mostly by stores in the city of Detroit. When I hear that healthy food is difficult or impossible to procure in Detroit, I hear a statement that contradicts my entire life experience.
But, as any scientist will tell you, personal experience is not a substitute for data. My experience may be aberrant. The food choices of many Detroiters may be constrained by affordability, transportation, safety, food quality...
Or people may just like potato chips.
The heart of this project is the question of access versus choice. If this massive endeavor reveals that Detroit is populated with grocery stores with ample selection of produce, I hope this project will once and for all empower Americans in low-income communities to see themselves as the authors of their long-term health.
Stephens is looking to raise $10,000 on Kickstarter by Nov. 10 and received a $1,000 grant from the Awesome Foundation. To learn more about the project or make a donation, see the Kickstarter page.
Why we love them: Another great source of eyesight-boosting vitamin A and beta-carotene, carrots are also rich in fiber, potassium and vitamins C and K. Pratt calls them a pumpkin's sidekick, with similar nutrients in smaller amounts. How to enjoy: Crunch on the sticks raw or, for even better nutrient absorption, try lightly cooking them, reports Everyday Health. Serious Eats shares some recipes for carrots that include everything from soup to cake (just go easy on the sweets!). Pratt swears by 100 percent organic carrot juice, saying he has a cup every day.
Why we love them: October's signature gourd is good for more than just that Jack-O-Lantern. A cup of mashed pumpkin packs more than 200 percent of your daily recommended vitamin A, crucial for healthy vision and immune system functioning, among other things. Pumpkin is also rich in alpha- and beta-carotene, two nutrients that have been associated with longevity, says Dr. Steven G. Pratt, M.D., author of several books on nutrition, including "Superfoods Rx: Fourteen Foods that Will Change Your Life." The flesh of the pumpkin is also rich in fiber, which can help keep you feeling full longer. And did we mention it tastes good in practically everything? We also love pumpkin seeds, which you can buy or roast yourself for a dose of healthy fats and a tasty crunch. How to enjoy: Roast the seeds on a baking sheet and eat 'em whole. Try the "meat" of the pumpkin in a soup, on pizza, in lasagna and other fun ideas like these recipes from Shape.com. You can even cheat a little and eat the canned stuff, says Pratt, as long as the label says 100 percent pumpkin.
Why we love them: The tasty fall fruit is loaded with heart-healthy antioxidants, fiber and vitamins C and K. Pomegranate has also been linked to fighting prostate and breast cancers, says Pratt. How to enjoy: Mix the seeds into your morning cereal or into a salad, Cheryl Forberg, R.D., former nutritionist for "The Biggest Loser" told HuffPost in June. Or opt for the juice, which is made from the entire fruit, says Pratt, giving you the added nutrients found in the skin of the fruit, which is otherwise too tough to eat.
Why we love them: While their longest peak is from March to May, artichokes experience an autumnal mini-peak in October. Artichokes are good sources of vitamin C and fiber, and the hearts in particular are a surprisingly rich source of antioxidants. A 2006 study ranked them number one in terms of antioxidant density, higher than well-known picks like dark chocolate and blueberries, HuffPost reported. Plus, they're low in calories and it takes a while to eat them, Pratt points out. "You get all the pleasures of eating without a whole lot of calories, and quite a bit of fiber, too," he says. How to enjoy: Steam the entire thing or add the hearts to a fall-flavored salad. Just be careful with dips -- it's easy to mindlessly drench leaves in butter or mayo, says Pratt. Opt for olive oil and non-salt seasoning instead.
Why we love them: The rich color of these root veggies is a tell-tale sign of the health benefits within. The compounds that give beets their color have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, similar to those of pomegranates and blueberries, says Pratt. How to enjoy: They work great raw in a salad, but beets can also be roasted, pureed into soup, stirred into risotto and more.
Why we love it: When it's not swimming in a mayo-y cole slaw, this often-overlooked fall veggie is surprisingly beneficial to your health. Cabbage is a good source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium. It also may play a role in fighting cancer, like a number of other superfoods in the same family, like broccoli, says Pratt. How to enjoy: Try it as a sandwich or burger topping, suggests Men's Health or opt for a lighter, homemade slaw. The New York Times shares some tasty-looking soup recipes and Pratt suggests adding purple cabbage to your next spinach salad.
Why we love them: While the tear-inducing bulb is essentially available year-round, the crop is peaking in a number of states across the country in October, according to the seasonal ingredient map at Epicurious. Onions have been linked to lower cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce risk of prostate cancer, not to mention they pack anti-inflammatory and anti-histamine properties. How to enjoy: Try them in soups, omelets, dips, salads and sandwiches, writes physician and HuffPost blogger Dr. Leo Galland. Pratt cooks them over low heat with a little olive oil and adds them to just about every vegetable dish he eats, he says.