The Buying and Selling of Food in America

Book - 2017
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Michael Ruhlman offers incisive commentary on America's relationship with its food and investigates the overlooked source of so much of it--the grocery store. In a culture obsessed with food--how it looks, what it tastes like, where it comes from, what is good for us--there are often more questions than answers. Ruhlman proposes that the best practices for consuming wisely could be hiding in plain sight--in the aisles of your local supermarket. Using the human story of the family-run Midwestern chain Heinen's as an anchor to this journalistic narrative, he dives into the mysterious world of supermarkets and the ways in which we produce, consume, and distribute food. Grocery examines how rapidly supermarkets--and our food and culture--have changed since the days of your friendly neighborhood grocer. But rather than waxing nostalgic for the age of mom-and-pop shops, Ruhlman seeks to understand how our food needs have shifted since the mid-twentieth century, and how these needs mirror our cultural ones.
Publisher: New York : Abrams, 2017
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781419723865
Characteristics: 307 pages ; 23 cm


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Jan 03, 2018

I didn't want to enjoy this book as much as I did, primarily because I have a hard time watching the author elucidate as a judge on Iron Chef. He strikes me as a mansplainer and kind of full of himself. But he is so interesting as a guest on podcasts, and seems like a real person with knowledge he wants to share in a way that isn't so haughty. And he's written really good books. Especially the one he's best known for: The Making of a Chef, which is one of my favorites.

That said, this is his best effort yet. I'm a sucker for memoir-laden history, and this story shares the author's upbringing in Ohio paralleling the evolution of grocery stores in the US. It's a beautifully structured way to learn about how our food systems became what we have to endure and suffer through today while subtly making the case for what's not right about it from a consumer perspective, all while learning about life as the son of a guy who adored grocery stores. In Ohio. And that's awesome.


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