Benjamin Lorr

Jan 1, 2024

The Secret Life of Groceries

The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket

Penguin 2020

This episode of the New Books in Economic and Business History is an interview with New York writer Benjamin Lorr. Benjamin Lorr is the author of Hell-Bent: Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something Like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga, a book that explores the Bikram Yoga community and movement. His second book, The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket (Penguin, 2020) is "an extraordinary investigation into the human lives at the heart of the American grocery store. The miracle of the supermarket has never been more apparent. Like the doctors and nurses who care for the sick, suddenly the men and women who stock our shelves and operate our warehouses are understood as ‘essential’ workers, providing a quality of life we all too easily take for granted. But the sad truth is that the grocery industry has been failing these workers for decades.

In this page-turning expose, author Benjamin Lorr pulls back the curtain on the highly secretive grocery industry. Combining deep sourcing, immersive reporting, and sharp, often laugh-out-loud prose, Lorr leads a wild investigation, asking what does it take to run a supermarket? How does our food get on the shelves? And who suffers for our increasing demands for convenience and efficiency? In this journey:

  • We learn the secrets of Trader Joe's success from Trader Joe himself
  • Drive with truckers caught in a job they call "sharecropping on wheels"
  • Break into industrial farms with activists to learn what it takes for a product to earn certification labels like "fair trade" and "free range"
  • Follow entrepreneurs as they fight for shelf space, learning essential tips, tricks, and traps for any new food business
  • Journey with migrants to examine shocking forced labor practices through their eyes
  • The product of five years of research and hundreds of interviews across every level of the business, The Secret Life of Groceries is essential reading for those who want to understand our food system--delivering powerful social commentary on the inherently American quest for more and compassionate insight into the lives that provide it.

    Paula De La Cruz-Fernandez is a consultant, historian, and digital editor. New Books Network en español editor. Edita CEO.

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    Paula De La Cruz-Fernández

    Paula De La Cruz-Fernandez is a consultant, historian, and digital editor. Editor New Books Network en español. Edita CEO.

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    Paula De La Cruz-Fernandez es consultora, historiadora y editora bilingüe. Editora de New Books Network en español. Fundadora y editora, Edita.

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