We have seen the future, and it sucks.

Grocery Stores: An American Miracle

11th June 2017

Interview with Michael Ruhlman, whose books you need to read (he’s one of my Recommended Writers).

Grocery encompasses more than sales data, though. It is also a study of grocery stores’ business model, a memoir (Ruhlman writes at length about his father’s love for browsing supermarket aisles), and a history of how modern-day grocery stores came to be. Ruhlman plots their development from the late 1800s, when they stocked about 200 products, to today, when they typically have more than 40,000 items. During that span of time, the grocery store has swallowed up a series of small businesses that people used to shop at one at a time—bakeries, butcher stores, delis, liquor stores, florists—and put them under one roof.

It’s up to us to know the difference between what’s good and what’s bad, and I think that’s fine. But Marion Nestle, the NYU professor and nutritionist, would disagree, saying that the onus should not be on the consumer, because food is so important and we’re up against a $17 billion marketing campaign by the major food manufacturers.

That’s because she’s a statist totalitarian.

But to me, the onus is on us. We can’t rely on anybody else to do it for us; we need to think for ourselves.

Spoken like a true American.

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