Grocery wars

On Friday morning I saw the news come across my feed that Amazon had bought Whole Foods. It’s one of the oddest announcements I think I’ve seen in a while, and no one really knows what Amazon is going to do to change Whole Foods. Amazon is already making forays into the grocery delivery game, but Whole Foods doesn’t really fit a home delivery model. If all Amazon wanted was a grocery chain they could have probably chosen some other companies to pick up that are already in that space.

So I’m not really sure what Amazon is going for, but that’s really not the point of what I wanted to talk about in the blog anyway. Something that I find fascinating is the grocery store culture in America. When I was growing up there were larger grocery stores, but there were also many, many small neighborhood markets. If you just needed a couple of things for dinner you could head there, and the bigger markets filled other needs. Then, around the time I was 10-11 stores like Cub Foods and Rainbow launched, with their mega grocery store concept. These massive warehouse stores undercut prices and had massive selection.

It feels like that type of store altered the way that American’s shop and cook. If you have to drive to a market to get groceries, you might as well stock up so you don’t need to go as often. I remember when I was a young adult that we would often make a single grocery trip every week or two weeks, coming home with bags and bags of food, which we then had to store and keep fresh in our house. With the advent of stores like Super Target, which are more akin to the size of an older grocery market, I find our habits altered. The idea of a big grocery trip every week are less common, and stopping by after work a few times a week is much more likely to happen.

This doesn’t mean we don’t stock up on items when we go, but the idea of thinking 1-2 weeks in advance, and planning to have all the food we would need, just doesn’t happen. It feels much more like what I hear about in Europe and Asia, where people shop every day, or every other day, at a local market (that isn’t the size of a warehouse.) It also means that people in those countries don’t need to have nearly as much food storage space in their houses.

Whole Foods is another one of those smaller markets that doesn’t take up an entire city block. Granted they’re incredibly expensive with some of their natural food, but it’s actually a pleasure to shop there. I like the trend of many of the other modern groceries as well, where the market is smaller, and you make a few trips each week to the store, instead of needing a wood paneled station wagon to bring your groceries home. Perhaps I’m alone in my thinking on this, but it feels more engaging. Hitting the local Lunds, Trader Joe’s, Super Target, etc on my way home from work, because we just decided last night what to make for dinner tonight, isn’t a burden. It feels like I’m living life just a tiny, ever so slight bit, on the edge. Watch out world… you never know what I’ll be making for dinner.

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