I meant to mention this cute article that was in the NY Times a week or so ago called “In Search of Grocery Gems.” In it, the author Julia Moskin discourses on a full cart-sized selection of packaged food products, finding most of them to be unsatisfactory, unhealthy, but a few of them, “gems.”
Moskin does an admirable job of filtering out items with high fructose corn syrup and dismissing them–some surprising culprits including most of the cracker shelf. The items that she applauds, however, such as McCann’s Irish Oatmeal, Walker’s Shortbread, and Rao’s Tomato Sauces, are surely not surprises to any New York gourmand. In the end, I’m left with a cautionary tale: trust no one, and you get what you pay for.
I enjoyed this article because I think it defines a culture of fear that New Yorkers, especially the eaty-outy ones, have toward their local grocery stores. As if examining its products were a dangerous task, one to be left to experts, and buying groceries alone were a last resort, not easily trusted. The way she dissects these products reminds one of taking stock of evidence at a crime scene.
I’m sure there will be a direct correlation between the sales of Morkin’s recommended products and the aftermath of the article. Even I’m tempted to spend $8 on one jar of Rao’s sauce if it’s supposedly worth it, and I don’t even buy jarred sauce, only canned tomatoes to make it with. But I think that the Times is right to assume that so many city people are nervous buyers of “regular” or “grocery store” food that they need a trusted guide to hold their hand with them through the aisles. Many of my friends, you know who you are, included.
Now, if only there were someone daring enough to venture into the bodega stock . . .