It’s a wonder we ever make it to the checkout aisle. Modern grocery stores stock around 50,000 items in the United States. That’s a lot of decisions for shoppers, and a big historical change. As recently as 1975, the average supermarket stocked just 9,000 products. That number has been on the rise ever since.
Low fat. Low carb. Low sugar. Low calorie. Food companies like to offer a variety of foods because giving consumers more choice helps them move more product. But does it help us, as shoppers? The problem becomes that Americans rely on media and marketing to help make the right choices—and these aren’t always good guides. How can we do better?