Supermarkets—What do Their Contents Say About the American Diet?*

Much can be learned about the American diet by visiting a supermarket. It is reasonable to assume that the space allotted to each type of food is roughly proportional to its profitability, which in turn, is roughly proportional to its consumption. For example, if, say, 25% of the food aisles of most American supermarkets were devoted to foods mainly containing devitalized wheat products, then the American diet would consist of roughly 25% of those products. Therefore, let us survey the allocation of various foods in a typical supermarket.

The majority of the “food” aisles contain (in alphabetical order): bakery, baking needs, beer, bread crumbs, candy, canned pasta, catsup, cereal, chocolate syrup, cocoa, coffee, cookies, crackers, delicatessen, diet food, flour, frozen food (prepared), granola bars, gum, ice cream, ice cream toppings, iced tea mix, jelly and jam, mayonnaise, mustard, noodles, pancake mix, pasta, pasta sauces, peanut butter, pickles, powdered drink mixes, prepared food, puddings, pudding mixes, rice, salad dressings, sauces, snacks, soda, soup, spices, sugar, tea, vegetable oil, and vinegar. These “foods” are made with one or more of the following: devitalized flour, refined sugar from cane and corn, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and large amounts of salt.

Another group of aisles contains non-food items: automotive, baby needs, bar soap, bath tissue, batteries, bleach and softeners, bottled water, brooms and mops, diapers, dish detergent, film, foils and wraps, foil ware, gravy, greeting cards, health and beauty care, household cleaners, insecticide, kitchen wares, laundry detergent, light bulbs, pantyhose, paper plates, paper towels, pet food and supplies, razors, sanitary products, sponges, and stationery.

The only aisles with food items with any significant nutritional value are: produce, dairy products; canned fish, meat, fruit, and vegetables; dried fruit; eggs, frozen food (non-prepared); juices; fish; meat; and nuts.

*From Robert Chuckrow, The Intelligent Dieter’s Guide, Rising Mist Publications, Briarcliff Manor, NY, 1997.

©Copyright 1997 by Robert Chuckrow

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