Grocery: The Buying & Selling of Food in America by Michael Ruhlman


New Member
Michael Ruhlman is back with his new book, Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America.

The book offers an in-depth look at the functioning of stores and how they get the food that we purchase. These stores perform a far more significant role than just a place where one can buy food. Stores like those mentioned in the book bring a community together.

I think Mike has chosen a good subject. For understanding how normal mid-sized grocery store functions, Mike goes to Heinen located in Cleveland. Heinen is a family-owned local chain that operates 23 stores. The author has gone to great length to give a vivid picture of the functioning of the store. It also tells how the food that you stack in your refrigerator and pantry reaches the grocery in the first place. He has also added the memories of his childhood, which lends this book a human element.

Have to say, Michael Ruhlman's book is a wonderful take on how a grocery store works in our country. It is a readable book.

Teen Touch

New Member
One can pass Michael Ruhlman’s Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America unless of course, you want to know how Heinen’s grocery store functions. This book just felt like an advertisement for Heinen. If the author was so serious about how a grocery store functions, then he could have gone to some other store which he has never visited and seen how things are run in that store.

The book does offer some excellent insights, but I do not like the fact that the book steered towards the author’s experience with one grocery chain. He should have named this book--- Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in Heinen’s.

Mind Freezer

New Member
I have read all the works of Michal Ruhlman. He has a distinct writing style, and those reading it are immediately put at ease. His cookbooks reflect that. Even the most complicated dishes are presented in such a simplistic manner. One can say Mike is the best when it comes to preparing simple recipes with very few ingredients.

Coming to Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America, I got this book at a local store and was immediately attracted by it. I loved grocery shopping and used to be amazed by the efficiency of the store managers in running the show. I have a Heinen where I live and do most of my grocery shopping from that store. The book also talks about the history of stores as well as how every single item reaches the perfect location in the aisle. Now that the secret is out, I am more in awe of these silent superheroes.

This book has taught me a lot both about stores and author's background as well as reignited old memories. This human touch would go a long way in making this book a best seller.

This book is worth its money and a must read for all those people who always wondered how does a store run so smoothly.


New Member
The book title is self-explanatory. This is not a view on either the history of grocery or present-day grocery stores but talks about the functioning of a grocery store in America. The grocery store is not your another brick and mortar store; they are stores which brings a community together. They also influence how people live and eat in the neighborhood.

Thanks to Mike, I learned quite a bit about grocery stores and the next time I go grocery shopping, I will remember how that particular store works and the effort that went behind in getting me my staples on time at the right place.


New Member
This book is a waste of time. Rather than looking like talking about grocery store’s history, this book felt like a survey of grocery stores and how does the food reach the particular store. There is some useful information, but it is few and far between. Unfortunately, there are few sections in the book which falls flat mainly on account of Ruhlman. The author despite being a chef himself seems to have a little idea about science and health. There are some statements about GMO, some weird health claims, etc. Ruhlman also appears to have a sadistic quality of handwringing lazy Americans who do not cook.

However, I liked the personal stories about Ruhlman going to the grocery store with his father and enjoying the whole process.

Roasted Frog

New Member
I felt that the subject chosen by the author is a fascinating one. He has explored the entire ecosystem of a grocery store very beautifully. The book focuses on a 23-store grocery chain Heinen's which is based out of Cleveland, Ohio. The store is great with the focus on customer services, commitment to providing customers with nutritious products, employee welfare, etc.

That said, I have a minor issue with the title. The way the book was titled, I felt the author would be covering many chains across the country and present a detailed and interesting picture. It was not so. But this can be overlooked. Go ahead and enjoy reading this lovely book.

Dirty Teeth

New Member
I have watched Mike Ruhlman on Iron Chef and had hated the very look of him. For me, he came across as a person who could not stop talking about himself. But one day, I happened to watch another show where a different Mike Ruhlman was talking. He seemed more genuine, was friendly with the audience and seemed at ease and had no traits of Iron Chef.

That attracted me to him, and I bought all the books that were written by him, the favorite being the “Making of a Chef.” So when I heard there is a new book by Ruhlman in the market, I immediately went ahead and got a copy.

This book is amazing. I always loved memoirs and felt that it is Mike’s best. In the book, he talks about his childhood days spent with his dad doing grocery shopping, etc. It also discusses how a grocery store functions and also the food systems that we encounter today. Very subtly, he also makes a point about the practices that are not good from a consumer standpoint.

All in all, an enjoyable read and a nice addition to a person’s library.


New Member
This book is an interesting take on the grocery store in America. Ruhlman talks about the history and future of grocery store through Heinen’s. This book is suitable for those people who want to know more details about the various aspects of stores, for example; the way food is grown, harvested, cleaned, packed and sent to the grocery store, where is purchased and eaten by people like us.

This might be interesting to people who do not know anything about the grocery store, but for someone who has seen these from close quarters, this is cursory. However, the book also gives some interesting facts like Americans spend the majority of their food dollars on buying snacks….now that is very true.
This book had made a promising start but lost the plot after a few pages. I have nothing personal against Michael Ruhlman. I watched episodes of him in Iron Chef and liked “the Making of a Chef.”

The book which wanted to talk about how Americans buy their food ends up with the rambling of Mike on the general health of Americans. He goes on ranting about the fats and then makes a big drama of bagging at his favorite grocery store chain. I could not finish the book and put it down vowing that I would never to touch the book again.

What started as a great promise ………….you get the gist.


New Member
I am confused by this book. The title talks about Grocery and things in America, focuses all his energies at a local grocery chain and ends up talking about his memoirs. So what was the author trying to do?

Yes, he provided an overall picture of how a grocery store functions and how does food reach the aisles in the store, etc., but why focus only on a single store. He could have easily gone to another store in another state and see how things run and this in itself would have helped to present a more detailed picture. Also, I felt some of the stuff mentioned in the book seemed to draw from the works of other authors. One can ignore this book.


New Member
Mike Ruhlman’s book is a pass. One does not learn anything new about grocery stores. Most of the data mentioned can be got from different sources. The book is also filled with errors, and the so-called key facts had very little backing of solid scientific data.

Fair Unfair

New Member
Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America is both informational and readable. It ticks all the boxes for me when it comes to non-fictional books. Yes there are some flaws in the book, and the personal memoirs felt a little melodramatic, but all in all a book that can be reread.