I picked up Michael Ruhlman's Grocery quite a while ago, but after the first night I was just not into reading it, so I put it on my Kindle "bookshelf" and read a bunch of other books first. But the time was right for me to come back to the book this time. I have been thinking more about what I am buying from the grocery store and where I am shopping, and I thought a history of the grocery store would be interesting.

I must admit I was a little shocked as to the topic of the book, I was thinking it would be more of a grocery store history, but admittedly I probably should have read the book jacket a bit closer as it stated exactly what it was going to be:

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.

This sentence from the book jack was exactly what the book was. I just wasn't expecting it, but I still devoured it like it was a home cooked meal.

Grocery did what I think a good book should do, it made me think. As a consumer, am I doing the right thing for my health and the health of my family and the broader world? Can I drive change with my own purchasing habits? What can I do to improve what my family eats? I saw all of it and throughout it thought to myself abotu what I can do as a family purchaser in a grocery market in New York.

Questions I am now asking myself:

  • Is it better to go to Whole Foods or Fairway?
  • What should I get organic versus standard?
  • Should I focus on getting better meat (beef, pork, veal, and chicken) for my meals, or stay with the standards?

Now, I think the answer to all of these questions are obvious, but there is a cost / benefit analysis that I do in my head. Part of adjusting to that is realizing that what I put in my body (and as the primary cook in the house, my family's) matters. It matters where the food comes from, and that my purchasing power can drive changes to the food system. Changes that need to happen.

But while Grocery was highlighted as a story about the grocery store and the food system, it was also a story of a father and son and thei relationship. Obviously, I have started to look through all stories like this through a different lens. I don't think that I could put together a story like this that Ruhlman did about his memories of his dad and one of his favorite things, the grocery store. I don't know what my dad's favorite things are, nor do I know what really makes him tick. My hope is that one day, Jack will be able to look back at all of the things we have done together and know what made me tick, and have fond memories of all of our trips to the grocery store, reading books, and even just goofing off. I don't have those, and books like this that play up a father / son relationship have started to trigger those emotions within me as a new father.

Quick Review: 4 out of 5 stars.