Skip to main content

Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America

July 13, 2017

Michael Ruhlman's got a new book? And it's about Grocery stores? Commence happy dance!

I’m pretty much a home body. With all the effort and time it takes just getting to and from work every day now that Nashville is the “it” city, the last thing I want to do is go out and about when I don’t have to. That means there are very few places I regularly go outside of the library. Church. The houses I teach piano lessons at. And the grocery store.
Ok, raise your hand if you like going to the grocery store. Yeah, I didn’t think I’d get too many takers on that. But here’s the thing – I actually enjoy going (except for the fact that the baggers at my Kroger haven’t figured out that you don’t pack the canned goods on top of the produce…but I digress). I like thinking about what food I’m going to cook. It’s a balance between finding the best item and getting the best deal. Part of this is probably due to the fact that I like to cook and spend time in the kitchen.
So when I saw that Michael Ruhlman had a new book out and it was about the grocery store, I got excited. Maybe a little too excited, but I’m a food geek. What do you want? Long time blog readers know that I’m a fan of Ruhlman. I’ve talked about his Making of a Chef and Egg books before. And it’s his recipe I use when I make pasta. 
This book is not a cookbook of any kind. There are no recipes. Instead we go behind the scenes at Heinen’s grocery store in Cleveland – where Ruhlman lives. Prior to reading this book, I had no idea what a Heinen’s was. I’m strictly a Kroger and Publix girl – or Whole Foods, if someone gives me a gift card or I win the lottery. Heinen’s is a family owned chain of 22 stores across the greater Ohio area. They fall somewhere between Kroger and Whole Foods. They try to buy quality, local produce and organic, natural meats, but they also stock Cheetos and frozen pizza. 
Ruhlman’s book is as much about the grocery industry today as it is about Heinen’s in particular. I knew about the “Shop the Outside” rule, but I had no idea what all goes into buying the thousands of products on the shelves in my store. It was fascinating to read about all the different providers and how they sell their goods. 
The last chapter of the book details a new store that Heinen’s just opened in downtown Cleveland. It’s in an old bank building that sounds like it would be really cool with a rotunda under a big dome. I’ve heard of people visiting certain cities just to go to specific restaurants. I wonder if anyone has visited just to go to a grocery store? I think I feel a road trip coming on…
Let’s go Grocerying!
:) Amanda

Panda cub avatar


Amanda is a classically-trained pianist who loves to read. Like any good librarian, she also has two cats named after Italian cities. Amanda spends her free time sitting in Nashville traffic, baking, and running the Interlibrary Loan office at the Nashville Public Library.

Age Groups