So I haven’t posted in a long time. My reasoning being that I actually needed to focus on my studies during my senior year. But now I’m done with school for at least a year, and I’ve just settled into my new home in Philly where for the next year I’ll be working at a youth crisis center.
So now I live in Germantown, which is the hood for the most part (the thing about Philly is that economic classes really go block by block), and let me tell you: being vegan is hard here. I knew it would be. We all know how bad those corner stores are, but I’m going to make it my goal to truly explore the gross options that are around me.
But for now having gone to a half dozen corner stores and the closest big box grocery. So far what can I say, except thank goodness I’m only here a year. To say the produce is sub par is an understatement. One is lucky to find bananas and apples in the corner stores, and the box grocery I went to had produce that I would think twice about pulling out of a dumpster let alone paying for it. I bought dried beans there, but I won’t again. Two dollars for a pound of beans is more than I’m willing to pay.
The corner store closest to me doesn’t even have produce. But what it does have is junk food and meat.
So what do I do? My last day off I went to Chinatown to stock up on tofu (Three pounds for a dollar? Yes, please) cheap veggies, and spices. But it took four hours there and back, not exactly the way I want to spend my day off. There’s also a so-so cooperative a forty-five minute bus trek to a more bougie neighborhood.
So I guess the point of this post, besides to get back to blogging, is to reaffirm that it is tough to eat vegan, let alone eat decently in the hood. And that if we want more vegans it wouldn’t hurt to have some good ol’ food justice politick. Because the distribution of quality food sucks.
And I leave you with a video that I posted years ago:
Germantown! I was born there and we lived there until I was eight. I remember we used to walk to a decent supermarket on Germantown Ave., but checking Google Maps, I see it’s not there anymore. 😦
Another place to trek to is the Italian Market in south Philly–a good place to load up on produce, spices and sundries.
I live in Philly too, right below Germantown (the boyfriend attends Temple). We moved here a year ago, and looking for housing in the Temple area the first thing that struck me was where the hell were we going to buy food? Grocery shopping in North Philly is ridiculous. And impossible. It’s a travesty. It’s disturbing how incredibly hard it is to get decent, healthy food up here, but so easy to get it elsewhere in the city. If you’re willing (and able) to travel a tad, there is cheap, fresh produce aplenty but I don’t think most people who really need access to cheap, fresh produce have the time and energy to do a four hour grocery trek very often. I sure as hell don’t. I invested in a bike shortly after moving here, and it’s served me well in terms of making good for more accessible. Even finally being able to buy a car hasn’t changed that biking is the easiest way to access decent food.
If you ever need a ride in your pursuit of groceries, or a bike tour of some good shopping grounds, I’m happy to oblige tho. Is that creepy? Probably. But if you get desperate, hit me up via email. And come hit the vegan block party on Naudain Street tomorrow!
I am in Philly, too. Our neighborhood (East Kensington) is working class with artists and, well, people like me and my fiance, gentrifying it. The “convenience” stores are plentiful and the options are totally atrocious. Forget for vegans–for humans. I do think, however, that things have improved in the four years since I’ve been coming to this neighborhood and the year I’ve lived here.
The Thriftway supermarket by us sells tofu, organic produce and has an organic aisle. These items are priced a bit higher than other items but still less than what you can get at Whole Foods. Quality is pretty good. I’ve bought great organic baby bok choy there.
There’s Greensgrow, a neighborhood urban hydroponic farm. They have a CSA and farmer’s market and they accept a citywide food assistance program called SNAP that allows people to use EBT cards to buy farmer’s market produce and goods.
Also, in the western part of my neighborhood, which is pretty poor and predominantly Latino, they’ve just started a weekly farmer’s market. I think food assistance benefits in the city are better too–you can actually buy tofu and produce with it now. It’s insane you couldn’t before.
Germantown isn’t far from Weaver’s Way (http://www.weaversway.coop/) and I’m going to assume that’s the so-so co-op of which you speak. Is it really that far a bus ride or do you mean another place? I don’t have a car and I know it takes time to get from place to place by bus. There are two other Weaver’s Way co-op locations in Ogontz, which is predominantly black, working class (and not far from Germantown but maybe even further for you) and Chestnut Hill, which is pretty affluent. West Mt. Airy is pretty bougie (East Mt. Airy much less so and closer to Germantown) but I’m not going to lie, that’s the only place I want to live in if we stay in Philly. I love that it is so green (as in color and trees!) and still in the city and it is very racially diverse–for Philly (and it has been profiled as one of the most integrated neighborhoods in the country but I think it is getting less so and more expensive now). Philly is so segregated. The neighborhood I live in is economically struggling but still mostly white.
I don’t know if I’ve offered any big solutions but I think things have gotten better in terms of food and access in some parts of the city. There are tons of food deserts, though and lots more to do. I hope some of these options might work for you personally, though.
I admit that we spend most of our income that isn’t for housing and utilities on food. I do not work and my fiance has an incredibly modest income. I am in charge of feeding us and I choose to spend our money at Whole Foods, on a CSA, and good quality food. We forgo a car, clothes, electronic toys, and other stuff. I know we make more money than truly poor people but we make a lot less than a whole lot of other people too. We live in just above squalor levels and I’ve seen some truly distressing things in our neighbordhood but I spend money on food because it goes in my body. I do think it’s worth it to spend more on a personal level but, yes, it is entirely fucked up how our food system is.
My husband and I used to live in Germantown. We are both vegans. I never went to the supermarkets but there is a little produce store right in the heart of West Germantown… I am thinking on Walnut? Lots of bulk foods and produce. And then it’s easy to take the bus up G-town Ave to the farmers markets in Mt. Airy/Chestnut Hill and then also down to East Falls for their farmers market. We actually found a lot of staple food at the Mt. Airy co-op and they have their own farm so provide a lot of their own produce. We’d go there just about once a month to get staple foods. As for eating out, there is an Ethiopian place on Germantown that is awesome, a Chinese/Japanese place on Chelton (right across from the super fresh or whatever that is…), and a vegetarian cafe on Germantown.
It’s definitely not Center City but I found it way more vegan friendly than lots of Philly neighborhoods. I used to work in East Kesington and Germantown seemed an oasis of fresh food in comparison.
red peanut chews, juices, oreos, lorna doones, nutter butters, fries/hashbrowns/onion rings/home fries, herrs bbq chips or hot chips, lot of chips are vegan actually, sour patch kids/straws, water ice, tostones, off brand fig bars, ritz crackers, just thought id show the corner store some love with the cheap vegan options. they almost always at least have real juice which even if your raw you can fuck with. and yea what do you expect? we live in a white supremacist society that is committing genocide against people of color, one of the primary ways through food. theres usually fruit trucks cheap around like a little store right around olney its not organic produce but decent and cheap. i agree with blogging about it but also what are we doing to make the right food accessible to the hood? make it happen if MOVE could do it so can you. if your black/brown be careful so you dont get bombed like them though, if your white just say your christian or quaker
Thank you for posting this. Garbage food keeps people confused, irritated, diseased, sick and, most importantly, unable to think clearly. It is extremely important to eat fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, legumes — even more so if you do not have health care. My family has lived in many different cities and it seemed like the more poor an area, the more disgusting and unhealthy our food choices were. But then, we weren’t vegan at the time, so maybe we weren’t shopping at the right places.