If the outer boroughs aren't willing to come into the city for their Whole Foods, then the city is making sure it finds a way to get Whole Foods into the outer boroughs. Yesterday the City Planning Commission approved a plan to encourage grocery stores with fresh produce, meats and dairy to expand into poorer areas by allowing them to sidestep existing zoning and development regulations. Supporters of the plan say it would encourage gentrification to continue its sweep across the boroughs.
City officials designed the plan as part of Mayor Bloomberg's ongoing push to get New Yorkers eating their fruits and vegetables. City Planning Commisoner Amanda Burden tells the Times that the incentives are aimed at areas that are "really, really underserved" and “their grocery dollars at Duane Reade and CVS on chips and soda.” The plan distinguishes itself from many urban initiatives because it is focused on promoting businesses with healthier foods to flourish rather than shoeing away fast food joints.
But the question remains: does the ghetto actually want your organic bullshit? A Whole Foods regional executive said that the new plan certainly sounds enticing but added that Whole Foods stores need a certain concentration of “people that live our lifestyle,” which includes a concern for “what they’re putting into their bodies.” And one of the owners of the grocery chain Morton Williams told the Times, “If you force distribution of product to a population that’s not interested in it, or not educated in it, and the grocery stores can’t make a profit, they’ll eventually leave.”