The Wisdom Of Crowds Is On Display At The Grocery Store

I had a longer post in mind for tonight, but I’m up to my ears in a programming project that’s due Monday.  It’s 11:30 PM and the only reason I’m writing a post at all is that my program takes 20 to 30 minutes to test each time I run it.

Anyway, I saw something at a grocery store recently that reminded me of what I wrote in a post titled The Wisdom of Crowds Is On The Menu:

A lot of us have very legitimate complaints about the food supply, with all its processed garbage and meats that come from grain-fed animals raised in what amount to meat factories.  A question I’m asked now and then is How do we change this horrible system?

We don’t have to change the system.  All we have to do is buy foods that enhance health and help spread the word to the crowd.  You can complain all you want about the evils of capitalism, but even the greediest capitalist can only sell you what you’re willing to buy  — the exception being when government takes your money and does your buying for you.

Remember when every damned thing on the grocery shelves was labeled low-fat or zero cholesterol?  That was the market responding to consumer demand.  Yes, the federal government helped create that demand with lousy dietary advice, but it was nonetheless consumer purchases driving what was produced.

That’s still how it works.  But now the Wisdom of Crowds effect is kicking in and changing what people demand.  When food trucks are offering grass-fed burgers, it means somebody in management noticed a change in consumer preference.  When restaurants add a new Gluten Free section to their menus, it means somebody in management noticed a change in consumer preference.  As more and more people choose grass-fed meats and other healthier foods, that’s what the producers will produce.

Here’s what I saw that reminded me of that post:

Yup, this store wants you to know you’re buying locally sourced produce.  They even have pictures of the nice folks who grow it.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean the nice folks are growing organic produce. (Personally, I think the “organic” label is overrated.)  But if you live here, it’s nice to know your squash wasn’t shipped from California to Tennessee.  According to Google Maps, Elora (the red A on the map) is about 90 miles from Franklin.

Given my druthers, I’d still rather get my squash from Chareva’s garden, but you get the point.  Those big signs featuring pictures of the local farmers cost money.  If the store went to the effort and expense, it means someone in management decided consumers want locally grown produce.  So what was this store?  Whole Foods?

Nope.  These signs were in our local Kroger.  Not exactly a store for the soy-cheese and Birkenstock crowd.

But crowd is still the operative word here.  The Wisdom of Crowds effect is continuing to change what consumers demand, and in turn what producers sell.

Now back to that pesky code.  It’s going to be a long night yet …


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147 thoughts on “The Wisdom Of Crowds Is On Display At The Grocery Store

  1. Wenchypoo

    Some more “wisdom” for you–national food brands are moving into the dollar store territory (brands intact). I had to go see this for myself, and IT’S TRUE! Boxes of Hamburger Helper, Velveeta, bags of Tostitos, boxes of Pop-Tarts, you name it (all junk food, of course). Right next to the local Dollar store was a regular grocery store for me to compare prices and sizes, and here’s where the poor are being ripped off yet again: when compared by price per ounce, the regular grocery store beat the pants off the dollar store–sizes were bigger, prices were lower, and you had more choice.

    I mentioned earlier about how junk food aisles were becoming ghost towns in Harris-Teeter and Kroger, right? The junk food is now being bought at the dollar stores–actually, a bifurcated market has sprung up: dollar stores and warehouse stores. The profit margins are HUGE at either end, and that’s why the national brands are making the move.

    A news story about it: http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/velveeta-revives-as-young-and-poor-shop-dollar-stores-for/article_1e458e6a-28b9-50bc-b97a-2932961404de.html

    Reply
  2. Michael Steadman

    Looks like the wisdom of crowds may be influencing the pencil necks in Washington. According to Reuters, the committee tasked with producing the new set of dietary guidelines may (may, I caution) drop the whole cholesterol thing from its guidelines of things to avoid. Of course, if that happens no apologies will be made to those whose health suffered from fat-phobia, and the government will claim it was their idea and they knew it all along!

    Reply
  3. Michael Steadman

    Looks like the wisdom of crowds may be influencing the pencil necks in Washington. According to Reuters, the committee tasked with producing the new set of dietary guidelines may (may, I caution) drop the whole cholesterol thing from its guidelines of things to avoid. Of course, if that happens no apologies will be made to those whose health suffered from fat-phobia, and the government will claim it was their idea and they knew it all along!

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      Well, I won’t hold my breath waiting for them to drop the cornerstone of the previous dietary recommendations.

      Reply
  4. Ronnie

    Geez.

    When the HIGH PRICE of grassfed meats is lowered maybe us retirees and maybe, just maybe, poor people will be able to buy it. Until then, we’ll trudge along with our Wal-mart meats.

    uh, weren’t you the one who posted about the “intelligent elite”, Bill Maher, etc????

    Did you forget some of us cannot afford to live on grass fed goodies? When it becomes mainstream: A different story. And no, just because Carl’s jumped on the bandwagon does not make it mainstream.

    Until then? Geez.

    Someone in a post above mentioned grass fed beef at 7 bucks a pound. Feed a hungry bunch of kids? No way.

    My last Geez.

    Reply
  5. Ronnie

    Geez.

    When the HIGH PRICE of grassfed meats is lowered maybe us retirees and maybe, just maybe, poor people will be able to buy it. Until then, we’ll trudge along with our Wal-mart meats.

    uh, weren’t you the one who posted about the “intelligent elite”, Bill Maher, etc????

    Did you forget some of us cannot afford to live on grass fed goodies? When it becomes mainstream: A different story. And no, just because Carl’s jumped on the bandwagon does not make it mainstream.

    Until then? Geez.

    Someone in a post above mentioned grass fed beef at 7 bucks a pound. Feed a hungry bunch of kids? No way.

    My last Geez.

    Reply
    1. Tom Naughton Post author

      I’m not suggesting everyone should buy grass-fed meat. In fact, I’ve said several times that grass-fed is better, but corn-fed won’t hurt you as far as I can tell. As the wisdom of crowds kicks in and more people buy grass-fed meats, it will become mainstream. That’s the whole point.

      Reply
  6. Dave, RN

    The salad I am eating was shipped 50 feet from my backyard to my kitchen.
    The pork however cam about 75 miles. From where he was shot by a friedn of mine.

    Meanwhile… I am joining the ranks of the rural folk. I bought 1.38 acres and am building a home out of the city limits. Soon I’ll have a larger garden, chickens and who knows what all…

    Reply
  7. Dave, RN

    The salad I am eating was shipped 50 feet from my backyard to my kitchen.
    The pork however cam about 75 miles. From where he was shot by a friedn of mine.

    Meanwhile… I am joining the ranks of the rural folk. I bought 1.38 acres and am building a home out of the city limits. Soon I’ll have a larger garden, chickens and who knows what all…

    Reply

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