Fresh Madison Market opened its doors to the public two Saturdays ago, and as the only full service downtown grocery store it is sure to change the face of Madison and the downtown living experience. It is difficult to believe that downtown Madison has, up until now, lacked a full service grocery store. For years residents of downtown Madison, and the surrounding area from the near east side to the Vilas neighborhood, have been forced to drive or take a bus to the Hilldale Metcalfe and Copps, the southside Copps, or fork over for the inflated prices at Cap Center or Open Market Pantry.
With the addition of Fresh Madison Market, downtown Madison is becoming more resident and environmentally friendly. Downtown residents will now be able to shop where they live, walking or biking to the grocery store, and cutting down on car and bus trips. While many have been living downtown without a car for years, perhaps the addition of a grocery store will encourage others to lose their wheels in favor of their own two legs as access to a grocery store will make self sufficient downtown living possible for both students and non-students.
City dwellers statistically use fewer resources than country folks. Country living requires longer and more frequent automobile trips to the store, school, work, etc. In addition, homes in the country tend to be older, larger and less efficient, meaning they require more energy to heat in the winter and to cool in the summer. Consequently, living in a city, particularly living in a downtown setting that requires little fossil fuel consumption, is more environmentally friendly. One could argue, and I would, that Fresh Madison Market has made downtown Madison more environmentally friendly as it makes it possible for downtown residents to eliminate driving to the grocery store.
I hope Fresh Madison Market will be as kind to the wallet as it will be to the environment. As the only full service downtown grocery store, the Market could potentially charge higher prices. Fresh Madison Market does have the element of convenience on its side, but inflated prices could still drive customers away, and it would be a shame to see downtown residents continue to drive in search of lower prices at Copps or SuperTarget.
In addition to reducing the amount of time and energy spent traveling to the grocery store, another way in which Fresh Madison Market is contributing to downtown living is by offering––and focusing on––healthy food options. In a recent interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, Fresh Madison Market owner Jeff Maurer emphasized that he wants to provide healthier eating options and that fresh produce, as evidenced by the colorful window displays, will be integral to the Fresh Madison Market shopping experience. Maurer recognizes the importance of a healthy diet and the increasing interest, especially among young adults, to eat well. ""I'm amazed at how well-educated the younger generation is about what they are eating,"" said Maurer.""This is a much healthier generation coming up.""
According to its website, Fresh Madison Market's philosophy includes eating well, green living and community. The opening of the local family owned grocery store in downtown Madison at the beginning of a new year and new decade rings in a new era for Madison. It's about time that downtown living became more feasible and friendly for our health and the environment. The existence of a full service grocery store downtown is long overdue, and the Market's contribution to the downtown community is has been a long time coming.
Kathy Dittrich is a senior majoring in English and French. We welcome all feedback. Please send responses to opinion @dailycardinal.com.