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Al Haramain a Food Oasis in the Middle of Detroit (aka Hamtramck)

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Photos via <a href=";hl=en%22">Al Haramain</a>
Photos via Al Haramain

Have you ever needed a sheep's head at 10 pm on a Tuesday? Hamtramck's Al Haramain International Foods has you covered. This mid-sized independent, family-run grocery on Caniff Street in Hamtramck offers a wide array of fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy products and dry goods. You'll find turmeric (fresh and dried), a deli cart loaded with ripe olives, tabouleh and scratch-made garlic spread, and a wide array of exotic teas, candy, and soda pops. If you like a good ginger beer, they have at least four different selections. And the hours are great if you work nights, or just like shopping late—the place is open til 1:30 am daily.

With Kroger and Fresh Thyme Farmer's Market set to open shiny new grocery stores in the Detroit burbs this week, we're reminded that a wide array of stores like Al Haramain exist in the city itself (and Hamtramck, while not Detroit, is entirely surrounded by Detroit). Reviews on the store's Yelp page rave about the produce selection, the service, and, of course, the halal meats, including the mutton. Choosing a new home, especially if you rent, can be a struggle, but knowing where there are affordable, walkable grocery stores can help make the choice a little simpler. Al Haramain isn't unique in Hamtramck—there are dozens of other Halal groceries, many small Bengali groceries, and Polish groceries known city-wide for amazing meats, baked goods and European candy.

Nationally, urban dwellers face the problem of "food deserts," areas where the only places to shop for food might be convenience stores with limited selections of fresh produce, meat, dairy and other whole foods. Detroit, assumed by many to be a limitlessly grim food dessert, actually has 115 grocery stores and many high quality options to choose from. There's Whole Foods, if you'd like to spend $8.99 a pound for chicken, and the city's new Meijer at 8 Mile and Woodward for an immense selection of more modestly priced food. While there are many groceries in Detroit, from mom-and-pop operations to one bonafide big box store, an issue people face is actually getting to a grocery, given the city's lack of effective public transit. Still, in the area of available groceries, Detroit has a decided advantage over other large cities. Especially if it's midnight and you'd like a sheep's head, jackfruit, or an ice-cold Bundaberg.

·8 Groceries set to Open or Reopen in Metro Detroit [Crain's Detroit Business]
·Al Haramain [Yelp]
·Do Food Deserts Cause Unhealthy Eating [Wall Street Journal]
·Blogger Aims to Photograph 115 Detroit Grocery Stores [A Healthy Michigan]
·Whole Foods Market Detroit [Whole Foods]
·Organic Chicken [Reuters]
·Detroit Meijer Store [Meijer]
·Al Haramain Page [Google Plus]
·Ginger Beer [Bundaberg]