Baltimore Mortician Opens Fresh Grocery To Stop People From Dying Early

Erich March, a mortician in Baltimore, is segueing slightly from his day job to do something to help stop members of his community from dying early. He has opened a fresh grocery store in the middle of a food desert — a region of the country that contains substantially less fresh produce and fewer whole foods than fast food and processed options, or none at all.

The newly opened Apples & Oranges Fresh Market in East Baltimore, run by March and his wife, Michele Speaks-March, aims to restore the area to its former glory, when March was a young child shopping with his family.

"Nothing was prepackaged and precious little was frozen," March told "When my mother and grandmother shopped there, they went home with buckwheat flour and shopping bags full of turnips, carrots, and buttermilk. It was as colorful an urban experience as Baltimore had to offer."

The decision to open Apples & Oranges, March said, also came out of sheer necessity. Although he approached larger chains to bring grocery options to the neighborhood, those stores were not interested in expanding his neighborhood.

"I thought that if nobody was going to do it, we will have to do it ourselves," March said. "It's a mission, an exciting mission. We've had nothing but encouragement."