Diversified Food Spending

Written by on November 8th 2016.

Here’s a random fact I just found in my research: Families in the Midwest tend to spend less of their budget on buying food then in other areas of the U.S.

Not a super important fact but an interesting one.

One of the things I never think much about is where I grocery shop. Like most people (83% of Americans), I get my weekly groceries from a supermarket. Except when I forget something simple, then I go to a convenience store. Or if I’m already at CVS and need a few things. And on Saturdays the farmers market isn’t very far.

Recent studies have shown that people don’t just rely on one store for all their grocery shopping. Some do it for bargains, others are looking for specialty items, and some are just opportunity shoppers like me. It’s nice being able to visit more than one shop to cover all of your grocery needs; you don’t feel pigeon-holed with the items at one store. 

There are benefits and downsides to this method.

One problem with diverse shopping is that it becomes more important to read the nutrition labels on the food you are buying. Each brand has different calorie contents, and generic brands can be especially flexible. Another problem, one that I currently face, is that I ride my bike everywhere. Transportation is a huge barrier to food access: I don’t really get to diversify my options the way I would like to some days, which is a bummer because I have not been able to buy polenta, at all, and I’m getting sick of eating rice!

Still, there are a plenty of upsides. Because there are so many options, stores are challenged to produce better quality foods at lower prices. In the age after Food Inc. and other documentaries, people are much more concerned with how their food is produced. Stores have to compete for your money and your respect.  There is also a market here for more cultural foods, with Asian and Latino markets selling niche food items not found at the local grocery store.

I think that there is a lot of potential for diversified food spending, but I also worry about it. For people with little access to transportation, grocery stores must contain all of the basic necessities. Without it, we run the risk of making people more food insecure.



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