by Michael Ruhlman
Harry N. Abrams

Hong Kong supermarkets are much like those overseas, although, at a guess, our stores have fewer aisles selling snacks. In the United States, we are told in Michael Ruhlman’s latest book, Grocery, that snacking now makes up half of all eating “occasions”. He says this is why American supermarkets are a good indicator of critical food and health problems in the country. Every decade since the 1980s has seen significant changes in food retailing, he writes, noting that grocers are wary of companies such as Amazon offering home delivery of almost anything. An earlier major cultural shift was the proliferation of convenience stores selling food. Another development is the huge number of goods on the shelves (40,000-50,000 individual items at most US supermarkets), which makes sense when you consider eggs alone will come in varieties such as regular, cage-free, omega-3-enriched, and so on, whereas in the past, size was all that mattered. Ruhlman overreaches to include dietary trends, farming and the worry that Americans are not learning to cook. Readers interested in those topics would be better going straight to Michael Pollan.