Skip to content

no room for hipsters

the occupation of Ashley and Levon



We needed groceries badly.  On our initial visit here a couple weeks ago, we had stocked up on pasta and peanuts but our stash had run out.  The supermarkets around here leave a little to be desired.  I’m not trying to disrespect, but let me say that the neighborhood doesn’t exactly have a Three Rivers Market co op of natural foods and organics (  But this is New York, right?  So walk another block.  We got online to do some research as to what our nearby options were and got two bits of good news.  East Harlem has a farmer’s market every Thursday- that starts in July.  Secondly, there is a whole foods store around 99th street.  Thats 38 blocks.  Take the subway?  Sure, $8 for the two us- any round trip we take. 

Our research on food supply in East Harlem brought up more sobering information:

“The East Harlem neighborhood in New York City has some of the highest obesity and diabetes rates in the country. The asthma rates are worse than those in some developing countries, according to a Reuters article.” (

And this, from the Community Health Profiles of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: (

“…with more than 20% of residents visiting the emergency department for routine health care… this community has the second highest HIV-related death rate in the city…. almost two thirds of East Harlem adults are overweight or obese.”


the view out my window

the view out my window


Wikipedia calls East Harlem a “food desert”, meaning there  is lttle access to fresh fruits and vegetables, yet the area is served by plenty of fast food restaurants.  “Access” is defined in three ways: physical access, financial access, and access restricted by mental attitude and food knowledge.  So it looks like a complicated problem; we can’t find good food, couldn’t afford it anyway, and assumingly would turn our nose up if it were on the shelves.  Lets just get Chinese take-out for the year.  

We returned to a local supermarket and paid approximately 30% more for the shopping experience you would expect in a Knoxville low end, bargain supermarket.  I would venture to approximate that the selections were upwards of 80% processed or junk foods.  We are for the most part still eating pasta and holding out for the farmers market in July.  Our “financial access” makes a shopping day in Midtown out of the question.    

We’ll be downsizing our 300 sq ft Knoxville garden (shared with three other families in the neighborhood) to a few window containers for this growing season.  The day before we drove here we shoveled two truck beds of mulch to make raised beds for Ashley’s mom’s garden in Virginia.  We knew that not having much of a connection with our natural environment was a part of life in the inner city.  I’ve traded that for a while to experience living as a minority and in the middle of bustle. Then I’ll go back to my sunshine south.  Or maybe I’ll find a hipsterville.  



Then our roommate, Lynsey, came home with cupcakes from a Midtown whole foods market she deemed “Whole Paycheck Market.”



luck be a lady

luck be a lady


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: