The 21st Century American Consumer | The Triangle

The 21st Century American Consumer

I recently went to my hometown of Spring Grove, Pa. to visit my parents for the weekend. While there, my mother and I stopped at a small farmer’s market to pick up some fresh produce. When we arrived, the small store was packed! Now I had never been in this store before, but my mother, who frequents the place, said that this amount of people was nothing out of the ordinary. I was always under the impression that this was the sort of alternative farm store that hippies go to. You know the type — they buy obscure soaps because they are all natural, and they take funky-sounding vitamins that are extracted out of some weed that grows in a meadow. But I was all too wrong.

There is certainly a health-driven mindset that is sweeping America. Everyone seems to be doing yoga and working out more frequently. People are now demanding more fresh, organic foods and less processed foods. From 2009 to 2010 alone, the sale of organic fruits and vegetables grew 11.8 percent. Through pop science and health culture trends, stress has been put on eating more fruits and vegetables and eating less meat and grains. The saying “Carbs are the enemy” is now a prevalent comment to make when discussing diets. Looking at the Organic Trade Association’s 2011 Organic Industry Survey, one can see that U.S. sales of organic foods and beverages have increased from a mere $1 billion in 1990 to a colossal $26.7 billion in 2010.

As an economist I need concrete data to look at, so I decided to go onto the website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics to retrieve some numbers. As in Spring Grove, I wanted to see if the rest of the country was really conforming to this organic culture. I looked at the statistics, and the data showed a clear conclusion: more people are demanding fresher foods.


Douglas Hammond is a pre-junior economics major and can be reached at [email protected]