A Cautionary Tale When a Community Lacks Diversified Industries


This is a picture of the Packard plant in 1950s. This is a picture of the Packard plant today. In less than a decade, Detroit went from the epicentre of manufacturing, a city that put the world on wheels, to the poster child of decay. The reason being is because the automobile industry decided to leave the city of Detroit. Due to globalisation, plants started to open up facilities, really, all over the world. This much we learned in Detroit, and I say this as a cautionary tale when I talk about my city, is be careful with your city, or municipality, or country, or state when you put all of your eggs in one basket. Detroit put all of their eggs in one basket, and that was the automobile industry. When the automobile industry collapsed, what happened is it left the city in decay.

What it did is it left that community without the place the shop for healthy, fresh, affordable food. When you don’t have fresh, healthy, affordable food in your community, what happens is the repercussions of that is diet-related diseases. That’s why we now have a community of Detroiters where 70% of Detroiters are obese to overweight. 40% of our children are obesed and overweight.

We have a community of folks who suffer from diet-related diseases because they can’t access healthy, fresh food. Therefore, they suffer from hypertension, diabetes, cancer, heart attacks. That’s what happens. Then what happened is that fast-food restaurants decided to move in, so now there’s this domination of fast-food restaurants in the city of Detroit. Now folks are eating out of fast-food restaurants, gas stations in some cases, party stores. Processed food is what they’re eating, food that is laden in sugar and salt and fat is what they’re eating.

That’s the story of Detroit, but I didn’t come here, all the way to Cardinia, to tell you that story. I wanted to set the context, all right, so that you understand what the repercussions are when you’ve had dominant grocery stores in your community, the power that they have. I also want to tell you a cautionary tale, too, about having too many fast-food restaurants as well and how that can affect your community. I wanted to tell you a story how Detroit, Michigan, and the people of Detroit, Michigan, have been able to transform their food system. That’s the story I want to tell.


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