To Market! To Market! Detroit’s Eastern Market

Detroit’s Eastern Market if one of my favorite places to visit in Michigan, having been a staple in Detroit life since 1861. It had been a handful of years since I had last visited and what a change! I remembered what was essentially a dark, cold, mega sized pole barn with people that could be from anywhere in the world. There were live chickens for five dollars in the same establishment where you could buy fresh cut flowers for wonderful prices and other surprises. This time around, the Eastern Market was sunny and suburban family friendly. It was exponentially larger, with several outdoor roofed shelters, including maybe three enclosed buildings. And even though I will always feel a deep love for the grit of Detroit, I think the newer, cleaner version is a gem worth a lifetime of visits.

I have a soft spot for urban markets, this New York Times article eloquently brings to light the vital role they play in our cities. In Philadelphia, I shopped at Reading Terminal. In Atlanta, I shopped at the DeKalb Farmer’s Market. And in Detroit, my first stop for fresh produce (and ten other items I didn’t plan on) is the Eastern Market. Food and people are how I put my ear to the ground to hear the heartbeat of each city.

On a warm summer morning one of the greatest parts of the Eastern Market is the street artists who provide side entertainment.

The Eastern Market always provides a “first” for me; today I ate my first sunflower sprouts from Rising Pheasant Farms. The farm is a bicycle powered farm on Detroit’s Eastside. I also picked up some granola from Simply Suzanne, also made in Detroit. My sweet tooth also found a rosy cheeked man selling delicious cookie’s 5 for a dollar (!). They were so good that they didn’t actually make it the whole way home before being devoured.

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6 thoughts on “To Market! To Market! Detroit’s Eastern Market”

  1. I’ve lived in Detroit all of 50 years and Eastern Market has been at the center of my shopping life for as long as my family has purchased food. I’ve never seen any bleeding chickens, goats, pigs, cows or any slain and bleeding animal hanging from anything in any of the sheds or even at Gratiot Central Market. Yes, there’s a lot of smoked and cured meat hanging in the Gratiot Central Market butcher stalls, but no bloody carcass drips on the sales floor. Maybe this type of thing happens at the meat processing operations in the area, but never where goods are sold to market customers under or inside the sheds. You can see bleeding carcasses at Capital Poultry on Riopelle St. where live birds are sold and other places like that. You will never find dead bleeding goats and flowers in the same area at Detroit’s eastern market.

    1. Hi Styln,
      It had been at least 8-10 years since I had been to the Eastern Market. I have been living out of state for the almost half of it. When I was talking to one of the vendors, asking if my memory is correct, more specifically of the live chickens (but I feel confident of asking of the meat also). He verified that at least a few years back there was a man selling live chickens, among other things. That is the only reason I felt comfortable saying that. But because this was so far back in my memory I cannot vouch for its authenticity. I apologize and I am willing to stand corrected. I will take that part out.

  2. You’re correct, there is a man who sells live and freshly slain birds at 2456 Riopelle St. in Eastern Market (Capital Poultry) and yes his place is not for the squeamish or faint-of-heart (loud, grimy and stinky). The best thing about his store is Clyde the Rooster, who seems to have evaded the butcher’s knife. Yes, fresh meat is sold at Gratiot Central Market, but the various meats are processed in back rooms behind (mainly) closed doors. The only meat you’ll find under the sheds are smoked, cured, processed (packaged) or fully cooked from vendors with kiosks (large coolers and such), food trucks or trailers. I agree that Eastern Market is not the cleanest place on Saturday evenings (at the close of business), but the only red you’ll see on the floors of the sheds or on the street is from smashed tomatoes.

    I greatly appreciate your interest in and love of Detroit’s Eastern Market. The photos in your post are fantastic and a great represenation of Saturday market day (Tuesday is now a wonderful day to shop there too!). I greatly appreciate your patronage and promotion of one of Detroit’s most historic and valuable jewels. I’m just a very proud Detroiter (6th generation), who is conscious of and concerned about how suburbanites, ruin porn tourists, and writers-in-residence characterize my City with its many sparkling facets and grimy inclusions. No city is perfect, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ok to put erroneous or uninformed information about any region/place on such a fluid and everlasting media platform as the Internet (World Wide Web). I hope you understand my concern.

    1. Thank you for speaking up! I would rather than be corrected than remain uninformed. Detroit is a special place, and despite the ruin porn, I would place my money on it being important and gaining a cleaner, more revered reputation despite the media kicking Detroit when it’s down. It’s passionate people like you that are willing to share with me some of the beautiful things that Detroit has to offer, which may not always be immediately visible. Although, I must confess, I also have a love of the Packard Building because of it’s sheer size. I don’t think I have seen something that large for industrial purposes anywhere else. I also really like the Russell Industrial Center, but clearly that is much more alive and moving!

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