Currently browsing posts about: Supermarkets

Dec 12 2013

Food & Water Watch: Grocery Goliaths

Food and Water Watch has some excellent new resources on supermarket shopping:

Food & Water Watch found that the top companies controlled an average of 63.3 percent of the sales of 100 types of groceries (known as categories in industry jargon). In a third (32) of the grocery categories, four or fewer companies controlled at least 75 percent of the sales.

I will never think of “choice” the same way again.

May 19 2011

Food politics, Barcelona style

A reader, Jeff Harpell, comments on my scheduled talk in Barcelona:

I lived in Barcelona last year and the year before….While they are becoming more influenced by American fast food, having both parents work, and buying more from one stop food markets, the lifestyle, social support systems, i.e., healthcare and eating habits still are very different from the USA

….I suspect that the Catalonians are concerned about their citizens’ heading down a path of bad eating habits and how to prevent them. Any thoughts to share?

Three first impressions:

1.  The tourist bureau on La Rambla gives out a free city map courtesy of McDonald’s.  The map helpfully identifies the location of all of the McDonald’s outlets in Barcelona, and its such a relief to know that you don’t have to go far to find one.  I counted at least 10.

2.  The Carrefour supermarket has a meat section unlike any supermarket meat section in the United States. Those unwrapped hams are not cheap (yes, that’s 79 Euros, nearly $140, but it’s a big ham).  Leaving the ham attached to the hoof is an interesting touch.  I can only imagine what the New York City health inspectors might say about them.

3.  The Boqueria open-air food market has the most beautiful cut fruit for sale—something like this would make getting those daily fruit servings a real treat.

More to come!

Jan 8 2011

Darya Pino’s guide to supermarket navigation

This diagram is flying all over the Internet and has been sent to me by so many people (thanks to all) that I’m eager to share it.

I particularly like it because it’s just what I used to say in lectures after What to Eat came out in 2006.  My What to Eat rules say never to eat a food with:

  • More than five ingredients (too processed)
  • An ingredient you can’t pronounce (ditto)
  • Anything artificial (ditto)
  • A health claim on the front (these are always about marketing, not health)
  • A cartoon on the package (it’s being marketed to kids)

Much praise and many thanks to the designer, Darya Pino (of Summer Tomato):

Sep 6 2007

Hannaford’s Stars Get Results

Hannaford, the supermarket chain in the Northeast, today reports the one-year results of its Guiding Stars program. This, you may recall, puts zero, one, two, or three stars on foods in the store, depending on how the products meet some rather rigorous nutrition standards. When the program started a year ago, less than one-fourth of 27,000 foods in the store qualified for even one star (when the criteria are independent, products endorsed as healthy by their makers do not qualify). Did the program encourage people to choose products with stars over those without them? It did! Take a look at the results and see if you think this approach is worthwhile. Hannaford does not reveal its nutritional criteria for awarding stars because of patent issues. I think it should. If the program works, other stores might be encouraged to try something similar. And here’s what the New York Times has to say about it.

Aug 6 2007

The Tesco Invasion

Michele Simon has just sent me a press release from the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. This is about a report the Institute has just written on Tesco, a supermarket chain that holds a 31% share of the grocery business in the U.K. Tesco is about to open supermarkets (“Fresh & Easy”) in Los Angeles and other places in some Western states. According to the lead author of the report, Robert Gottlieb, who is Henry R. Luce Professor of Urban & Environmental Policy at Occidental: “Tesco has been especially adept at marketing itself as a socially responsible corporation…However, our examination of Tesco’s track record shows significant gaps between what it has promised and how it has achieved its current position….” This report makes interesting reading. Is Tesco really socially responsible? Does it raise the same kinds of issues as get raised about Whole Foods? Give the report a try and see what you think.

Jun 27 2007

Grocery Store Tricks

I was recently interviewed for a story on “10 things your grocery store doesn’t want you to know” (see it at msn health and fitness). The writer had some fun with What to Eat and honed in on the take home lessons and then some. She also quotes Brian Wansink, whose book, Mindless Eating, is one I assign to students to explain how something as simple as a large plate encourages people to eat more calories. Enjoy!