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Changes in consumption

One of my favorite “foodie” columns is Bitten by Mark Bittman which may be found in the New York Times.

Mr. Bittman’s latest column is “What We’re Eating” and featured this chart from Information Resources, Inc.

The data for this chart was mined between June 2008 and June 2009 and measures the Top 10 grocery items that are bought by American consumers. It is interesting to note that real “food” doesn’t make the list until slot 3 and comes in the form of fresh bread and rolls. Otherwise, the Top 10 list is dominated by carbonated beverages, beer, wine and cigarettes.

Truthfully? This list makes me sad – don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of beer and wine, but where are the fresh vegetables in this list (according to Bittman, they’re probably hiding in the frozen entrees)? Are we a stressed out nation that’s drowning our sorrows in carbonated beverages while eating salty snacks and natural cheese (I’m never going to look at a block of Cheddar the same way again … you are not Cheddar, you are natural cheese!)?

Although I’m not the world’s most frugal person, I’ve been successful at keeping some of the “extras” out of our food budget – soda only for special ocassions, salty snacks only when we have company, etc. I’d also be curious to see how America is trending now versus five years ago, 10 years ago, etc.

What about the rest of you – does this list resemble your family’s consumption habits or what’s missing?

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3 thoughts on “Changes in consumption

  1. Um, no. 🙂 Sodas, milk, frozen dinners, salty snacks and cigarettes wouldn’t even register on the top 30 list. Of those, sodas is the most prevalent, but we don’t buy a big case as part of our grocery shopping.

    Ours would probably look like this:
    Fresh vegetables
    Fresh fruit
    Juices (all frozen except OJ)
    Whole wheat pasta
    Baking supplies
    Sauces, spices and condiments
    Grains and dried beans
    Bread, tortillas and buns
    Tofu, mock duck and fake meats

    Maybe not in that order, costwise, but those are our main categories, I think…

  2. Fresh fruit
    Milk/Soy milk/Rice milk
    Bread/bread ingredients (since we bake most of ours)
    Fresh vegetables
    Tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans)
    Fresh chicken

    Probably not exactly in that order either, but close. We don’t buy any pop anymore, and the only time we buy any alcohol other than wine is if we’re having people over or having a party.

    I wasn’t really surprised looking at the chart, except that cigarettes are #11???????? Holy cow, I thought we’d made progress on smoking, apparently not 🙁

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