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Secret Life of the Supermarket

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There was a moment in early 2020 when life narrowed and the grocery store became a lifeline — in more ways than one. It was the source of breakfast, lunch and dinner, of course. But those lines emerging from sliding glass doors and wrapping around the block? For a while, they were as close to a social life as we could get, one of our last connections to the outside world. And, when certain items were in short supply in the early days of the pandemic, we were forced to think a lot more about where our food comes from. The importance of the supermarket is no mystery to Benjamin Lorr, author of “The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket,” and John Mackey, CEO and co-founder of Whole Foods and author of "Conscious Leadership: Elevating Humanity Through Business." From their general store origins in the 19th century to the vast supply chains we see today, grocery stores have played a hugely influential role in our society — becoming “as American as jazz or the t-shirt,” Lorr says. But, as he explains, there is also a dark side to our brightly-lit food aisles and a cost to our endless options and two-for-one deals.