Every morning I wake up before Matt and spend some time reading news online while eating breakfast. Earlier this week I came across an article in the Pensacola News Journal about a new Grocery Outlet store opening. It got me thinking about a debate I had with my former boss about Food Deserts and personal responsibility in the ‘War on Obesity’. Can we hold someone responsible for ‘eating healthy’ when they live in an area with limited food choices? If you go into grocery stores in lower socioeconomic areas you’ll often see an abundance of junk/overly processed food and a limited supply of healthy items or fresh produce. The supermarkets cater to the tastes of the area so is it their fault they supply what is demanded? Or, are people struggling in the lower economic class being forced into eating unhealthy foods because they cannot afford better and have limited ability to access foods outside of their closest grocery store?
When I got to the store just before 8 a.m. to check it out I actually had to wait in my car for a few moments to let a herd of salivating construction workers go inside. Clue #1 this trip may not go very well for me. It should be noted that the store was sandwiched between a Dollar General and Goodwill (thrift) store. There was also a Burger King in the parking lot and a Christian College across the street. Gotta love the South!
Once through the doors I started walking around the aisles checking out the selection of items and prices.
Massive cans of Pork & Beans and Cheese Sauce.
The cereal isle was full of off-brand sugar drenched cereals I’ve never heard of. This Apple Jacks knock-off had 120 calories per cup and 16 grams of sugar compared to 100 calories per cup and 12 grams of sugar in Apple Jacks.
Right next to the very small produce area was a section for Pigs Feet, Pickled Eggs and Canned Sausage. Left of this, taking up the remainder of the aisle, were various Kool-Aid knock-offs. Grape drink, basically.
The prices were not significantly cheaper than Publix, our usual grocery store. The big tub of Quaker Instant Oats I buy at Publix is around 4.50 and here it was 4.30. The store bills itself as having prices so low because they only charge customers ‘cost plus 10%’. What I didn’t realize, and I”m sure the majority of their customers don’t, was that the prices listed on items didn’t include the 10% extra! You can see at the bottom of the sale price in the above photo “plus 10% surcharge” but I walked by at least a dozen of those before I read it. How many people probably get to the checkout and don’t bat an eye when their total is 10% more than the list prices?
I’m working on writing a full length article on personal versus corporate responsibility in the war on obesity so expect to see much more on this topic soon.