Employment and Jobs

The Workers Behind Our Groceries: A Book Talk with Benjamin Lorr

Event information

People in the US spend more than 10% of their disposable income on food each year. About a trillion dollars of this spending goes toward purchasing food to eat at home, much of it spent at grocery stores and supermarkets. Yet, very few people understand or know about how food makes it to this last step of the food supply chain and ends up on the shelves of their local store. In “The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket,” author Benjamin Lorr traces the history and evolution of the modern-day supermarket, exposes the grocery supply chain, and reveals the often exploited and underpaid labor that goes into making sure shelves are stocked. Lorr paints a vivid picture of how agricultural and meat processing workers, fisherman, truck drivers, and grocery store workers, among others, often endure poverty and sometimes worse as they work to feed our country.

Join the Aspen Institute’s Food & Society Program and Economic Opportunities Program for “The Workers Behind Our Groceries: A Book Talk with Benjamin Lorr,” on June 21 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. This is the third and final event in our series, “The Hands that Feed Us: Job Quality Challenges in the US Food Supply Chain,” in which we explore the challenges food workers face and opportunities to create a sustainable food system where workers, businesses, and consumers can thrive together.

Benjamin Lorr


Bio forthcoming.

Corby Kummer

Executive Director, Food and Society Program, The Aspen Institute

Corby Kummer is executive director of the Food and Society program at the Aspen Institute, a senior lecturer at the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science, and a senior editor of The Atlantic. In recent years, the Food and Society program launched new initiatives that include the Food Leaders Fellowship, Conversations on Food Justice, Safety First: Protecting Workers and Diners, Food is Medicine Research Action Plan, and Open Access: Equitable Equity for Food Businesses.

Kummer is the author of The Joy of Coffee and The Pleasures of Slow Food, the first book in English on the Slow Food movement. He has been the restaurant critic for New York, Boston, and Atlanta magazines and a food and food policy columnist for The New Republic. A weekly commentator on food and food policy on WGBH’s Boston Public Radio, Kummer has received six James Beard Journalism Awards.

Opportunity in America

Opportunity in America, an event series hosted by the Economic Opportunities Program, considers the changing landscape of economic opportunity in the US and implications for individuals, families, and communities across the country. The series highlights the ways in which issues of race, gender, and place exacerbate our economic divides, and ideas and innovations with potential to address these challenges and broaden access to quality opportunity.

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The Economic Opportunities Program advances strategies, policies, and ideas to help low- and moderate-income people thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, events, and other announcements.

Food & Society at the Aspen Institute brings together public health leaders, policymakers, researchers, farmers, chefs, food makers, and entrepreneurs to find practical solutions to food system challenges and inequities. Learn more at https://www.aspeninstitute.org/programs/food-and-society-program/