Robin's Reviews > Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America

Grocery by Michael Ruhlman
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really liked it
bookshelves: food-nonfiction, narrative-nonfiction

4 stars based on 3 stars for chapters that I skimmed and 5 for the ones that totally caught my interest.

There were two elements that made me anxious to read this book: one was that I'm a huge fan of Ruhlman's food journalism (SOUL OF A CHEF is at the top of my favorite food/restaurant/chef books), and the other is I love delving into the inner workings of industries, businesses, restaurants, retails stores--heck, I'd even read a book about auto dealerships or realtors if they outlined how everything in the business works. So I couldn't wait to read more about grocery stores and how they operate.

Turns out I was a little disappointed. I still like Ruhlman's style but found some of the chapters less than interesting, although chapters that focused on where produce and meats come from and how they're marketed were informative, as were the chapters on prepared deli foods (who knew they weren't much of a moneymaker?), how new products are found and brought in, and the "healthiness" of many of the foods (and food should be called "nutritious" instead of "healthy").

What fell short (for me anyway) was that the book centered on Heinen's, a family owned store in the east, that is primarily a cross between a supermarket and a Whole Foods, with many specialized and "natural" type of foods (for those of you in Salem, OR, Roth's would be a good comparison, only on a smaller scale), and while he touched on the topic, I wanted more about huge conglomerates such as Safeway, Kroger, et al. Ruhlman also spent a lot of time on the history and development of supermarkets and foods.

A phrase that caught my eye was "This is a good rule when evaluating food that is a box or a bag: Read the list of ingredients, and if you can buy each one of them in the grocery store, it's probably real food." So I went to the cereal drawer and looked at the list on two favorites. One said "Contains wheat" and other had a good list until "acacia gum." Hmmmm...

Read this if you want to know about grocery stores and where our food comes from, and especially if you are a frequent shopper at Heinen's or similar stores. The footnotes reminded me a bit of Mary Roach's science writing and fans of hers may enjoy the author's research experiences.

Thanks to the publisher for the advance digital reading copy.
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Reading Progress

March 28, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
March 28, 2017 – Shelved
March 28, 2017 – Shelved as: food-nonfiction
June 11, 2017 – Started Reading
June 14, 2017 – Shelved as: narrative-nonfiction
June 14, 2017 – Finished Reading

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