After starring in two of HBO’s most critically acclaimed shows, The Wire and Treme, actor Wendell Pierce knows what a sure thing is when he sees it. So it’s not hard to imagine his venture into the world of food to be nothing but another success.
One would think that the stout New Orleans-native with a penchant for high-fat, salty, Bayou fare would naturally open a restaurant, but in a surprising move, Pierce along with his business partners will open a chain grocery store called Sterling Farms, the first of several in New Orleans’s low-income neighborhoods.
In December, they opened Sterling Express, the first in a convenience store chain that will sell fresh produce, salads and competitively priced staples in addition to the usual chips and sodas.
Pierce told The New York Times that he was interested in helping rebuild New Orleans’ low-income neighbors and what is better than bringing highly nutritious foods to the “hood”:
“Bringing fresh food into these areas helps create economic growth,” Mr. Pierce said. “But it also helps people understand that there’s value in eating better. It’s not something that’s only available in a better neighborhood.”
This noble cause will have to receive support from the local community of Marrero, La., where the first full-service market will open. Making sure that the grocery store has a “Big Easy” feel, Pierce and his two partners, Troy Henry — a businessman who recently made an unsuccessful bid for New Orleans mayor — and Chicago developer James Hatchett, will hold quarterly crawfish boils to help raise money for the upkeep of the community.
Pierce admits that it’s almost impossible to convince investors to take a chance in New Orleans’ low-income neighborhoods. Since Katrina, New Orleans is completely unhinged, with statistics painting a violent portrait of life in N.O.. With one of every 1,700 residents slain last year, it’s not hard to see why only 10 of Pierce’s announced 300 solar-paneled, geothermal, low-cost homes in Pontchartrain Park have been built to date.
CNN reports that in 200 murder cases selected from a 13-month span between April 2009 and May 2010, the study found 57 were tied to drugs, while 47 were acts of revenge. Gangs were almost never a factor. Arguments led to 37 killings. How can neo-cons and pundits push for a war with Iran when this grand city of love and music is in the midst of a war, falling apart in front of the nation’s eyes?
Even though Frugivore reported that studies have shown the implementation of grocery stores doesn’t have any significant impact on the health of its served community, we hope Pierce’s Sterling Farms will help New Orleans’ residents have confidence and pride in their local businesses.
Pierce thinks his care and knowledge of the underlying issues in low-income areas will keep people in the stores and cooking fresh food in their homes:
“That communal thing of actually going to get the fresh food that you are going to cook and eat together. That’s a memory. As corny as it sounds, it feeds the soul as much as the body.”