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National City Market Reopens With Focus On Healthy Options

Evening Edition

Aired 3/6/14 on KPBS News.

A National City landmark, Big Ben Market, reopens with a focus on convenient healthy and organic options.

National City in the South Bay has the highest obesity rate in the county, and is also an area where affordable and healthy food is difficult to find.

Big Ben Market had served National City residents for 65 years until July, when it was consumed by a fire. Six-and-a-half weeks ago, the store reopened as Big Ben Specialty Market, rebuilt with an open-air restaurant, an exhibition kitchen and a “grab and go” section with healthy options.

National City resident Richard Wingfield visited the restaurant, Grill House at Big Ben, for lunch Wednesday.

“We don’t really have a lot of healthy options in National City," Wingfield said. "My wife and I use to have to go all the way to Chula Vista to find a couple of grocery stores, to find organic produce or any kind of local vegetables.”

Offerings at Big Ben Market now include fresh produce, naturally grown meats and even organic tortillas. Nick Salem owns the store, and said National City residents deserve to have good and healthful food.

“We’re providing the community with the ingredients to eat and live well, whether they have the time to cook or not. I love National City and I’m invested in its future,” Salem said.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison said it is bold move to be the first in the community to offer healthy options.

“It’s always hard to be that first one to crack the egg, and we’re so glad this place is the first one to do it,” Morrison said.

Customers like Wingfield, whose son goes to school in National City, also see the market as another way to help reduce the growing obesity problem in the area.

“Even at a young age, the kids are a lot bigger than they should be. So hopefully something like this will help out the kids and the parents,” Wingfield said.

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