Providing New Orleans with a Green Alternative

By: Melaina Gasbarrino

Food insecurity is a major growing concern, especially in lower income areas where fresh and nutritious food is rarely available to the entire population due to either proximity or affordability. Large urban sprawl can often times be to blame. Recently in the urban center of New Orleans, actor turned grocer, Wendall Pierce who opened up a greener convenience store Sterling Express in December, now plans to open a whole grocery, Sterling Farms, throughout New Orleans' low-income neighborhoods to help address this same issue.

The idea first sprung up in Mr. Pierce's head because of his deep-rooted passion and interest in all things food. As a kid he was raised on a diet of 'bayou classics like okra with shrimp and is the adventurous type when it comes to cooking.' With such a love for food he, along with two business partners are in the process of opening up their very own grocery store. The grocery store will yield to a whole lot of wholesome, healthy living as a way to ensure New Orleans' low-income neighborhoods suffer no more.

After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005, the city has slowly been building itself back up and is reclaiming its place as 'one of America's prime food destinations.' But with new restaurants popping up, there certainly seems to be a lack of grocery stores within the city. Mr. Pierce, famous for his roles in 'The Wire' and now 'The Treme,' wants to change that, as a survey at Tulane University in 2007 found that 'nearly 60% of low-income residents had to travel more than three miles to reach a supermarket, though only 58% owned a car."

With people struggling to make ends meet in today's day and age, these grocery stores will certainly benefit the good of the community. The beauty of Sterling Farms is that brings nutritious foods back to life in New Orleans. With Mr. Pierce's initiative, hopefully The Big Easy will soon be known as The Big Healthy!

Melaina is from a small town in Ontario, Canada and as an avid environmentalist with a passion for focusing on healthy living. Having traveled the world and written about it every step of the way, she one day hopes to develop unique environmental educational programs for kids.

Photo: topher seguin

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