Whole Foods Adding Classes on Nutrition and Healthy Eating

Dec 31

1:15 PM

By Erin Piscopink

Tagged: All Neighborhoods

Read the Detroit News Article in its original format HERE

Whole Foods Adding Classes on Nutrition and Healthy Eating

Louis Aguilar for
The Detroit News

Whole Foods Market is opening a space near its Midtown store dedicated to free nutrition and culinary education classes on Jan. 13.

The "Lets Talk Food" center will be in a small commercial space with a working kitchen, located directly across the parking lot of the 115 Mack Ave. store. The center at 3670 Woodward Ave. is next to a Bank of America branch and in the same building as the Ellington Lofts and a Starbucks cafe.

In January, courses such as understanding food labels, combating food cravings and maintaining a healthy diet will be offered. In February, a "Healthy Eating Challenge" program will cover the entire month. Several Metro Detroit chefs, including a vegan, yoga instructors and physical trainers, as well as medical officials from nearby Detroit Medical Center, have agreed to speak.

The center will be operated by Dr. Akua Woolbright, a Whole Foods nutritionist who quickly moved to Detroit once the Midtown store was announced. The store opened in June.

"The chance to discuss healthy eating options to communities of color — I couldn't pass that up," Woolbright said. That is what she has been doing weekly for more than six months now, always free of charge. She's been to churches, people's homes, community centers and offices.

"So many people in Detroit are already eating healthy," she said. "They know a great deal about canning of food and people have been growing their own vegetables for a long time."

The range of topics at the center will continue to grow based on community feedback, she said. Registration is required for most classes; to register, email [email protected].

Many officials from the Austin, Texas-based chain view the Detroit store as a chance for Whole Foods to prove its formula of organic and locally-made fare can work in communities with a wider range of incomes. Detroit often is named one of the poorest big cities in the nation, according to several studies, as well as ranking high for obesity rates. And Whole Foods has derisively been called "whole paycheck" for its premium prices.

Two months after the Midtown Detroit store opened, Whole Foods Market Co-CEO Walter Robb told Bloomberg News, "The store is exceeding our wildest expectations," and added that it serves a "wide area of the community." Many officials say it offers competitive pricing compared with other national chains.