A strange thing has been happening for years. Organic food has been made to seem elitist, out of reach, and just plain unavailable to most people. As a result, health disparities between communities that do have access to nutritious, organically grown foods and those that lack healthy choices, have increased faster than a runaway train.
By shortening the supply train and working directly with local farms, we are changing what it means to make healthy food accessible – especially to urban communities previously lacking the availability of choice.
Our idea to create a store where everyone would feel comfortable led us to design an environment highly compatible with urban living. This meant balancing an aesthetic appeal with a local lifestyle focus, partnering with urban farms, and offering a space that fosters community.
Enter the trains. The railroad theme that runs deeply through The Boxcar Grocer concept is rooted in the fact that trains are great connectors. They are a fact of modern society that can be appreciated by all ages, ethnicities, and genders. We were deeply inspired by the courageousness of people such as A. Philip Randolph and his organizing of the Pullman Porters. Reclaiming one’s dignity was an uphill battle back then but one that solidified a position of pride for many men who were once treated without respect for their work and their lives.
Eating organic food is so not special. If you travel outside this country to the most remote regions of the world where people have not heard of half the things that we in America think we need to have to survive, eating ‘organically’ is the norm. Subsisting on diverse foods grown in the immediate vicinity, by natural means, without reliance on pesticides is exactly how normal people live. When our grandparents were alive –and their parents before them– and they stepped out to get food, chances are they had plenty of good, old fashioned, organic food growing right in their own yard. And if your grandparents were anything like ours, they had significantly less money than you and I have right now, at this moment in time but still ate better than most of us eat today.
Our engagement with local farmers and our surrounding neighborhoods allows The Boxcar Grocer to be the connection that is sorely needed in many communities across America. It allows our communities to reclaim health by making it easier to make the right choices.
© 2012 The Boxcar Grocer.