Downtown Market brings healthy food choices to Grand Rapids
By Malaysia Horton
Once, downtown Grand Rapids was a food desert. Run-down “party stores” were the main source of food for hungry city dwellers due to the lack of grocery stores downtown. However, the explosion of The Downtown Market has changed that. The Downtown Market is a mixed-use facility that brings together production, distribution, marketing and education about local produce. The indoor facility features a 24-vendor market hall, while dozens of farmers and artisans line the outdoor farmer’s market shed. Upstairs you’ll find several exceptional spaces throughout the site, including rentable incubator kitchens, rooftop greenhouses, and the nation’s first demonstration kitchen.
As soon as you walk inside Downtown Market you will be greeted by the delicious desserts in Sweetie-Licious Bake Shoppe. If that doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth enough, there are also The Grocer’s Daughter chocolates, and Love’s ice cream! In the mood for something savory? They’ve got Mexican, Korean, Italian, and Thai food. Whether you want Aperitivo’s meats and cheeses for party snacks, or Dorothy & Tony’s Gourmet Popcorn for a movie night, Downtown Market can take care of all of your foodie needs.
Some shoppers may be put off by the steep prices, and while I do understand that to some degree, a lot of what you’re paying for is quality. It’s easy to buy cheap, junk food. But Downtown Market offers the kind of unique, artisan foods that you just won’t find at traditional supermarkets. Downtown Market also has a lot of natural ingredients that make those indulgences like cupcakes or chocolate a lot healthier.
Downtown Market has recently made some changes to make things more affordable and accessible. For example, The Healthy Eating For All Scholarship, supports class tuition (for more information see here https://downtownmarketgr.wufoo.com/forms/qt8stfc1tu970k/).
This is all made possible by Downtown Market’s partnership with Spectrum Health. This scholarship completely covers the cost of attending one of the scholarship-eligible culinary or wellness classes. At the class, eligible participants receive Produce Bucks which are $10 vouchers to redeem for fresh produce from City Produce at the Downtown Market. Eligible participants who need assistance getting to and from the market for class receive passes to ride The Rapid.
The Downtown Market has given downtown GR something of which to be proud. Locals now have more green options for eating. Shirley Boer, loyal customer of the market said
“Anyone who appreciates good quality food should take a look!” I couldn’t agree more.