The New Supermarket: Not Your Mother’s Grocery Store
Today's markets emphasize quality, variety, and convenience.
Where can you get freshly prepared salmon cakes, coconut-crusted mahimahi,
and grilled corn on the cob with cilantro butter? I'm not talking about a fancy
restaurant; this is just a typical day's fare at a supermarket near my house
(Whole Foods). Life has changed dramatically in so many ways since my mom's
generation was raising kids. So I suppose it's only natural that the grocery
shopping experience reflects those changes.
Basically, you can sum up the new supermarket in three words:
Quality at the New Supermarket
People today demand quality in their groceries, from the freshness of their
meat to the flavor and beauty of the fruit they buy. Many are looking for
organic foods, or foods free of artificial ingredients or hormones. And today
there are more and more products and stores that specialize in bringing this
type of food to you. (I don't think the word "organic" was even in my
mother's vocabulary 40 years ago.)
I admit to being especially picky about my meat, fish, and produce. I buy my
meat at only two places:
- A smaller chain grocery store that still has an old-fashioned butcher
department where they do the carving every day. That's also where I buy
- Whole Foods, where I buy grass-fed beef selections.
For produce, I go into a variety of stores, not knowing what I'm going to
buy. That's because I buy only the fruits or vegetables that look fresh and are
in the best shape. Frankly, if they aren't firm and fresh, I'd rather buy my
fruits and vegetables frozen.
Variety at the New Supermarket
One of the biggest changes since my mom toted me around as a toddler is that
today's supermarket gives shoppers so many choices.
When you reach for a jar of bottled spaghetti sauce, you have to decide
between brands -- and between the flavor selections within each brand. The cake
mix section now includes mixes for bars, brownies, cookies, tortes, nut breads,
and muffins. Instead of a couple of brands of peanut butter and a few types of
jelly, you have jams and preserves in an assortment of flavors and degrees of
sugar. And you can choose peanut butter that's crunchy or smooth, reduced fat,
swirled with another flavor, or natural-style.
There are all sorts of choices in the bread aisle, too. "Light"
bread, white bread, white bread with added fiber and nutrients, whole-wheat
bread that looks white, whole-wheat bread that looks brown, multi-grain bread,
French bread, gourmet bread -- you can even find whole-wheat hot dog and
Convenience at the New Supermarket
There are lots of double-income families and single-parent households out
there. And stay-at-home parents are often busy shuttling kids to and from
various activities. The bottom line is that most people today are either
pressed for time, or simply not interested in spending lots of time in the