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By: Twilight Greenaway, GOOD Magazine


January 23, 2010 By: Twilight Greenaway, GOOD

Although they tend to sell processed food made by the world’s largest companies, most corner stores are small, family-run businesses. And, when it comes to feeding their communities, many of these businesses find themselves in a serious bind. On the one hand, advocates and public health experts see their stores as pivotal to fresh food access, the key to curbing diabetes and obesity in urban areas with few other food resources. On the other hand, the processed food industry spends billions of ad dollars manufacturing a constant stream of demand for products that are anything but fresh or healthy.

Shoppers with fresh and whole foods on their list tend to skip over corner stores, except in emergencies. “They provide a sort of psychological safety net,” says Amy Franscechini, the artist responsible for conceiving San Francisco’s Victory Gardens program (she also designed the infographics in GOOD's seventh issue). “You know if you were desperate you run down to the corner store to get some milk.” But, she stresses, they can also be so much more. “They are the eyes and the ears of the neighborhood, people have their Fed Ex boxes left there. ... They’re also the pharmacy and newsstand. Why don’t we see them as the most amazing resource in the city?”