Out on Fulton Street it’s not much different - a few more people, the clatter of disjointed traffic, and, like many places in the city, perpetual sirens in the distance. This is not a neighborhood where healthy food has ever been in abundance or easily accessible to the residents. The term ‘food desert’ would describe these hard tense streets and barren shop lots that depict the challenges people face daily to eat well. For most the only options are deep fried meals at jaded, unmaintained fast food outlets or sugar and salt driven packaged snacks from corner ‘supermarkets’ which are anything but super. For some, it may be nothing at all. But things are changing.
The food movement has gained such momentum that it’s no longer defined by neighborhood or zip code. It’s penetrating places previously thought so forlorn, they repelled business instead of attracting it. Once the hallmark of upscale trendy districts, health food merchants are now popping up in commercial areas known mostly for blight instead of prosperity. Even more outstanding, demand for cold-pressed juices and organic salads among those who have the least discretionary income and who may have been raised solely on processed foods is growing.
Several subway stops away after a line change from the C to the 5, is another juice bar pioneering health in the changing neighborhood of Prospect Lefferts Gardens. On the east side of Prospect Park and bordering the Crown Heights and Brownsville areas, food options for local residents is similar to Bed-Stuy - very limited access to fresh, organic, minimally processed food. House of Juice, located at Rogers Avenue and Parkside Street, offers unique fresh blended juices with ingredients sourced from farmers markets usually out of reach of the local community, but made available in their menu items - ingredients such as Mandarin oranges, Kyoto carrots, sorrel, and hibiscus.
Places like Fuel Juice Bar and House Juice have been aided by the migration of younger professionals moving into eastern Brooklyn neighborhoods from Manhattan where rents have become too high to be sustainable. The new residents have brought with them the demand for high quality food. The net result, though, has been greater access for local residents to food that tastes wonderful, supports long term health, and inspires with signs of progress.
After finishing my Pico de Gallo Salad at Fuel Juice Bar, I walked back to the the Franklin subway station feeling great after eating well made, nutritious food. Finding a delicious plant-based meal in Bed-Stuy at affordable prices, and run by local residents, was a treat and gave me reason to come back.