The journey to the grocery store isn't as exciting as, say, King Arthur's journey to obtain the Holy Grail. But according to the data we've gathered for this infographic, it's no less convoluted.
To start with, the average American does not shop at the supermarket that is closest to his or her home. Why is this? Often it's because they shop for food while on other errands or driving home from work. Or, they are SNAP (i.e. food stamp) participants and can only shop at specified locations.
Other times it's nothing more than a matter of preference. After all, there's only one place to go for detergent that smells like honeycombs baked in lavender (we're talking about you, Whole Foods).
If, as we've found, the average trek to the grocery store is about 3.5 miles, that may not always be a convenience. Unsurprisingly, stores of any type are concentrated around areas with denser populations. So, the average distance to the nearest grocery store gets larger and larger as you move out from inner urban areas and into rural ones.
The good news is that relatively few shoppers walk to their grocery destination. 94-95% travel by car, while only about 6% walk or take public transportation. And those who do walk or take the bus are likely to live in urban areas, where stores are nearby.
The bad news is this, though, and it's the most interesting fact presented in this infographic: if you live in the mountain/midwest region of the U.S., you're in for a heck of a long journey to the store. According to the findings of data analysts at Flowing Data, the largest "food deserts" are located right in the heartland.
On the left: larger lines indicate a larger drive to the nearest grocery store. On the right: clustered locations of major supermarket chains.
In fact, if you refer to the area in which you live as "the" anything ("the sticks," "the mountains," "the boondocks," or "the hills"), it's safe to say that access to groceries is pretty restricted.
According to one study, shoppers have reported traveling as far as 30 miles for food (keep in mind that most of us aren't even willing to drive that far to attend our second cousin's Christmas party).
So, the moral of the story is this: the next time you're lugging six shopping bags halfway across town to your apartment, be grateful that you don't live in the middle of New Mexico or Colorado. And while you're at it, be grateful that you're using the ergonomic and hands-free grocery bag carrier that you bought from Grocery Gripps.
Because, no matter where you live or where you buy your food, there's no better way to shop.Buy It Now!