Grocery by Michael Ruhlman


In Grocery, bestselling author Michael Ruhlman offers incisive commentary on America's relationship with its food and investigates the overlooked source of so much of it—the grocery store. In a culture obsessed with food—how it looks, what it tastes like, where it comes from, what is good for us—there are often more questions than answers. Ruhlman proposes that the best practices for consuming wisely could be hiding in plain sight—in the...

Details Grocery

Release DateMay 29th, 2018
PublisherAbrams Press
GenreNonfiction, Food and Drink, Food, History, Business, Cooking

Reviews Grocery

  • Michael
    A book that should've gotten five stars. I *love* grocery stores. I hoped that this book would give me all the inside scoop, like an expanded New Yorker article.Most of the book, however, is Ruhlman talking about the kinds of food we should be eating. He's a good writer, and his advice is pretty solid, but the grocery store is less of a focus of the book than a vehicle for Ruhlman to tackle his pet food issues.There is very little here, for examp...
  • Jeanette
    It's interesting and I'm glad I read it. But the title is not accurate, IMHO. He uses his own favorite grocery store and the small chain it represents as the pivot of good example. It's also a nice to read tribute to his father who loved to shop there. And why.But this particular woman who is writing this review started out her life living behind a Mom & Pop grocery, fruit, necessity vital neighborhood store in Chicago. It was on Wentworth Ave in...
  • Karen
    Michael Ruhlman has written numerous cookbooks in conjunction with chefs and other non-fiction books related to cooking. Here, he gets into the nitty gritty of the grocery business. Who would have thought this topic could be so fascinating. It was! And eye-opening as well.Ruhlman has done exhaustive research on this transforming industry. He gathers info from many sources; by observing practices, interviewing a wide scope of people - visionaries,...
  • Robyn
    Quite enjoyable, interesting, with a balanced tone but a tendency toward repetition and confused structure. | It's not easy to write with a conversational feel in a factual book with source citations, but this manages it. I have at times in the past been harsh in my reviews of Ruhlman's books, because he can't seem to keep himself off the page in places he doesn't need to be. Here, finally, he's found a theme and style where his presence in the n...
  • Lindsay Nixon
    The title is grossly inaccurate. This book is mostly the author petaling or defending his food choices. Most of which have zero scientific backing... and the comments on vegans are embarrassing (for him). After spewing about how most Americans eat processed food devoid of nutrients he says vegans need be careful to get their nutrients 🙄 BYE FELICIA The whole book shows how much of a wannabe Pollan or Nestle he is, and their books are a better ...
  • Stephen
    Let's go shopping! There's a few errands to take care of first -- an homage to dad, a quick review of the history of grocery stores -- but then, straight to business. Aisle by aisle, from dried pasta to fresh fish, the way Americans approach food is changing, and Michael Ruhlman's Grocery shows us how, using -- literally -- the neighborhood grocery store, the one just down the block from his childhood home. Ruhlman has a particular passion for fo...
  • Tom Franklin
    Ruhlman's Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America is part love poem to the Cleveland area-based Heinen's grocery store chain and part memorial to his recently deceased father. Set amongst the characters of the Heinen's chain, Ruhlman's father's death, his own imminent divorce, his love for food, and his fascination with a grocery store chain that does things the way he would do them, his book weaves in and out of the Heinen's aisles an...
  • Rachel Blakeman
    This is really a 2.5 star review. Some chapters were OK but this was largely a self-serving book. The more accurate title would have been "Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food at Heinen's." I grew up on the west side of the Cleveland media market so I remember Heinen's ads as a child but since we didn't live in a fancy part of the Cleveland suburbs, there was no Heinen's, which makes the point that this store serves a very upscale clientele. A...
  • Jena
    This started out strong and had chapters that were really interesting, but it seemed like the author lost steam about halfway through. Then, it became less of what made grocery into what it is and more of an advertisement for Heinen's and a eulogy for his father. The over the top physical descriptions of women and the instance of overt anti-Native American racism were super, super distracting, too.
  • Chris
    I saw the author promoting his book on one of the morning news shows and was energized by his passion for food and grocery stores. It turns out this passion was nurtured by his dad who died in 2008 or so. So it’s a labor of love and another son reaching out to his father.Ruhlman is a Cleveland native and we learn all about grocery stores in the context of Cleveland’s local grocer- Heinen’s. These mid size grocers are the ones who drive inno...
  • Riley
    THE GOODThe book has some good general history and observations like:Grocery shopping can be nostalgic. Remember the times shopping with your family.Consumers tend to throw reason out the window and pick product based on what the easiest to evaluate, not what's most important. We stick to the familiar or go by price because we don't want to deal with so many choices and scrutinize label claims or nutritional information.THE BAD:As much as I wante...
  • Robin
    4 stars based on 3 stars for chapters that I skimmed and 5 for the ones that totally caught my interest.There were two elements that made me anxious to read this book: one was that I'm a huge fan of Ruhlman's food journalism (SOUL OF A CHEF is at the top of my favorite food/restaurant/chef books), and the other is I love delving into the inner workings of industries, businesses, restaurants, retails stores--heck, I'd even read a book about auto d...
  • Dawn Betts-Green (Dinosaur in the Library)
    ARC copy from ALA Midwinter--excellent microhistory.
  • Leslie
    This is much more than a history of the grocery store; it is also a behind-the-scenes look at how a modern grocery store is operated and managed, and the industry’s continuous evolution.Through interviews with the owners of Heinens, a Midwestern grocery chain, we learn about the workings of different departments and even learn the real reason why the dairy and freezer cases are at the rear of the store. (I always thought it was to make me walk ...
  • Lynne
    3.25This book was a love song by Ruhlman to his father, and that purpose, woven through this book, was touching and authentic. Ruhlman contrasts eating and shopping habits during his childhood and patterns now, from the perspective of the accomplished chef he has become. There was much interesting info in the book, but I felt a loss of focus in the last half, with many pages devoted to redevelopment of a historical building in Cleveland, a shoppi...
  • Katie
    This is exactly the kind of book I want to read. I love food; I love reading about food. This book made such a pedestrian thing as a grocery store so fascinating and intricate. This book includes a history of the grocery store in America, but it's really about the business of running a grocery store today, how food is sourced, stored, marketed, displayed, sold & eaten. This was really an ode to the grocery store, a celebration of what it does and...
  • Trudy Preston
    I gave this terrific book 4 stars only because occasionally the author's writing is opaque and his sentence structure is sometimes convoluted as hell. But he's an excellent researcher and he provides exhaustive information on the evolution of America's eating habits. I didn't read this book because I'm fascinated by grocery stores but rather because I read multiple reviews extolling its virtues and I was definitely rewarded. Who knew grocery stor...
  • Liz
    First I start with the question - do you enjoy nonfiction? If so then keep going. This is definitely a nonfiction book weaved with personal narrative and hands on research/exploring by the author. I really enjoyed his approach and the breadth of information he covered, yet sticking on point. I learned really interesting things about the history & trends within grocery stores, vendors/suppliers, etc. I feel motivated to support stores that are mor...
  • Marie-Therese
    3.5 starsAn interesting, well-written, frequently very personal history of the grocery store in the US. Ruhlman is a Mid-westerner by birth and he focuses on grocery stores in that area (Heinen's, especially), but I think his general experience applies across the all the states and, as a Californian of roughly the same age, I can vouch for the changes he's experienced as a grocery shopper in his lifetime applying to me as well. From TV dinners an...
  • Chris
    Grocery does a fair job of describing the ins and outs of the grocery business in the US, at least from the perspective of the small, regional supermarket chain. It provides limited insight into the corner store, except as a historical notion, or into the operation of the national chains, which largely loom as soulless money machines that the plucky regionals stand in counterpoint against. A significant part of the book is preaching on American e...
  • Nick Spacek
    an excellent view of the history of the grocery industry, as well as a touching personal memoir of ruhlman's father and their relationship with food. the author ties in elements of conservation, organic farming, and the nature of food to neighborhoods to create a book which is both fascinating and entertaining, but also ably demonstrative of the western world's emotional involvement with food.the grocery industry as a whole is also explored, alth...
  • Vera
    I LOVED THIS BOOK! As a NE Ohio girl, I found the details about Heinen’s fascinating. In the last year I’ve changed my diet completely and have been following a whole food, plant-based diet. Details in this book confirmed my opinion that this is the right approach for me (for everyone?). I’m a sucker for a good nonfiction and this one filled the bill. Discussed the macro world of grocery stores and then the micro world applicability at Hein...
  • Nari
    The book started out very informative, but at some point Ruhlman derailed from this thesis. He went into a long winded rant about how we need to eat more whole foods versus processed foods, and he didn’t talk about grocery stores outside of his one favorite in his hometown, Heineman‘s. I was hoping for something more relatable something more about grocery stores in general. I’m not sure how anything he discussed really translates nationwide...
  • Nicole
    This book was really disappointing. Too much memoir, not enough research and investigative reporting. It was painfully unscientific and unrepresentative - the author based his research on one small supermarket chain in his hometown, and presumed to extrapolate the findings to the rest of America with no attempt to verify their applicability. The author also cited things like WebMD and Wikipedia, when he bothered to source things at all. Or based ...
  • Matt
    I just read a whole book about grocery stores. On purpose. For fun. And it was fascinating. You can pretty much trace the advancement of humans and technology through the evolution of the grocery store. Cool shit.
  • Nicole
    I was a little dubious at first when Ruhlman started with stories of his family and childhood, but then he got into the meat of the book, making me remember why I enjoy how he writes about food and creating the perfect bookend when he returns to his father at the end.
  • Lori Cox
    For a place I seem to spend a lot of time at, I never thought about the how the Grocery Store functioned as a business. I was surprised to learn that their margin of profit is a low 1-1.5%. It was interesting to note that stores have grown from just a hundred or so items to over 40,000 in most stores now.I would have liked to see a bit more nuts and bolts regarding the grocery store business and its possible future with the advent of online shopp...
  • Denise
    If you view this as simply a story about grocery stores, it's mildly interesting. However, as non-fiction where hopefully you can learn something, it's unfortunately lacking. There are many errors that I spotted (the year Target was founded, for example) and key 'facts' were presented with little data to back them up (why GMO crops are bad, for example).
  • Tim O'Hearn
    Grocery was the last book I read in 2017 and it was a formidable contender for top quartile of books that I read overall. I'm not sure what to do with the information I gleaned aside from try to make my trips to Whole Foods faintly diabolical. "Do you know why the salad bar has the glass covering? It's a sneeze guard you clown!" My friends already hate to eat with me because I'm one of those people who writes Yelp reviews. But I myself don't like...
  • Denise Anderson
    I love food writing and this did not disappoint ... an interesting look at how we buy our food and the the multi-faceted influencers on our decisions and how they have changed over time. I'm looking at stores and food differently. Plus I really wish we have Heinen grocery stores in SC now ...