Wendell Pierce is best known for starring in two of the best television shows ever made: as Detective Bunk Moreland on The Wire, and now as trombonist/teacher Antoine Batiste on Treme, a cinematic and music-filled character study of post-Katrina New Orleans. Like The Wire, Treme explores a constellation of factors that combine to create a range of tough realities in a complex American city -- poverty, violence and corruption, for starters. Yet the show has plenty of joy, most of it found in scenes that celebrate that inexhaustible human capacity for creativity and innovation, played out in a city determined to rebuild and survive.
Creativity and innovation, as well as a strong activist streak, drive Pierce's new venture: Sterling Fresh Foods, a chain of four grocery and convenience stores located in "high risk" urban areas, starting with the Lake Pontchartrain district of New Orleans, where Pierce grew up. And while Pierce's business model is informed by a nationwide dialogue about food and social justice, Sterling Farms is more than a platform for a philanthropic mission. Pierce will be talking about that mission and more during a free public appearance at the University of Colorado Denver on Thursday; in advance of that event, we chatted with Pierce about economics -- and groceries.
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