By Michelle Ghafari
The Meridian Times
There has been a noticeable health-food trend taking over social media and local communities. Though the definition of healthy varies, the spread of health-food markets is definite.
Residents living in and near Meridian Township are well aware of the Whole Foods Market opening on Grand River. Many individuals are excited for a combination of reasons including: expanded grocery options, possible job opportunities and simply because of the recognized brand name.
However, with excitement also comes concern regarding the impact this chain market will have on the local community recognized for agricultural surroundings and committed Farmer’s Market vendors.
On Oct. 22 a supplier’s summit was held at the Kellogg Center, giving farmers and other local sellers the opportunity to work with Whole Foods.
Meridian Township Farmers’ Market Manager Christine Miller said, “I am not an expert in predicting the future, but the Meridian Township Farmers’ Market has been around for over 40 years and has a very strong following of customers, so I do not think that there will be a significant decrease in business for the farmers.”
The director of the Meridian Township community and planning development board, Mark Kieselbach, and Miller agreed there will be economic fluctuation but Whole Foods will be positive for the community overall.
Paul Thompson, a W.K. Kellogg professor of agricultural, food and community ethics, said he knows many people that will be happy for a convenient Whole Foods location but added, “Given that the ownership of the Whole Foods brand has a reputation for opposing unions and other reforms that would benefit food system workers, it is too bad that businesses with a strong commitment to their workers and the community may suffer.”
Stephanie Hickson, a Haslett resident and local shopper, said, “Probably the people that shop at Meijer are still going to come to Meijer, people that go to Kroger or wherever are still going to there.”
Organic products are usually priced higher due to strict standards producers have to comply with. Shwin Easow, a nutritional science student attending Michigan State University, said, “There is a reduced amount of yield and different methods for fertilizing and keeping pests away are needed.”
Traffic is another potential concern for Meridian Township residents.
Christopher John, an MSU graduate student, says he’s excited the new site may split up the heavy traffic that often engulfs Meijer during his grocery trips.
Kieselbach says because the driveway aligns with Northwind Dr., a traffic signal will be placed there in order to make entering and exiting the parking lot easier.
The anticipation continues and Kieselbach says that the Whole Foods should be opening mid-April 2015.
Whole Foods Address:
2758 E. Grand River Ave. East Lansing, MI 48823