The Root’s Healthy Cities: Detroit

In a city hit hard by the recession, here's how to exercise and eat well without spending a fortune.


In these dire economic times, food deserts and fast-food options have become the norm for residents hit hard by the recession in cities like Detroit, but there are healthy alternatives available for those who seek them out. The Raw Café (4160 Woodward Ave.) serves up delicious wraps, soups and smoothies.

Fans of the popular vegetarian restaurant Seva no longer have to travel to Ann Arbor to dive into its savory meals. A branch opened in the Motor City (66 E. Forest) earlier this year, and it offers a complete vegetarian menu and juice bar. Om Café (23136 Woodward Ave, Ferndale) serves up vegetarian, vegan and macrobiotic meals with a Mediterranean flair. The 30-year-old Inn Season Café (500 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak) is known for succulent recipes like its shiitake-mushroom sauté appetizer and tasty gluten-free stir-fries.

Where to Shop

One of the best things about summer is the ability to load up on fresh fruits and greens at farmers markets, and believe it or not, there is no shortage of them in Detroit. Before it gets too cold, check out the 121-year-old Detroit Eastern Market, Birmingham Farmers Market, Joe Randazzo’s Fruit and Vegetable Market and Wayne State Wednesday Farmers Market.

For natural supermarkets, check out Trader Joe’s in Royal Oak, Mich.; Whole Foods Market in West Bloomfield, Mich.; and Natural Food Patch in Ferndale, Mich., which opened in 1998.

Where to Get Checked Out

Because of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance might be more accessible for the working poor. But Detroit offers help to those who still struggle with costs. The Detroit Department of Health & Wellness provides services for children, adults and seniors who are uninsured and underinsured. A few programs at the city’s three health centers require a small co-pay for services. The Detroit Community Health Connection, a nonprofit community-based primary-care organization, provides affordable care to residents on a sliding fee.

While Detroit may be depicted as a desolate wasteland (see truTV’s Hardcore Pawn), there are places for residents to live healthy and active lives — as long as you know where to look.

Lynette Holloway is The Root’s Midwest bureau chief.

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