EXCLUSIVE: The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket, Benjamin Lorr’s non-fiction book about the complex grocery industry, is set to be turned into a TV docuseries.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Ink Master producer Truly Original has optioned the book, which was published last year, and is developing the project for the small screen.
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The series will explore the hidden reality of the modern American supermarket and examine the passion, ingenuity and the exploitation grocers rely on to meet seemingly impossible consumer demands: low prices, high quality, endless options. It will examine what it really takes the stock the shelves of the $700B grocery industry.
Lorr spent five years “stalking groceries” for the book, embedding with popular stores and big box retailers, he traveled the globe in an attempt to understand what makes the supermarket a modern marvel. What he discovered is an intricate and esoteric system so efficient, most people don’t even realize it is operating on their behalf.
Now, through a blend of investigative journalism and travelogue, Lorr will go even deeper, offering an inside-out perspective of a world he describes as “Alice in Wonderland-like surreal” and “claustrophobically secretive,” whose gatekeepers would prefer to keep out of sight at all costs.
Anchored by the American supermarket – which carries 35,000 to 100,000 products at any given time – Lorr will take viewers on a wild, humorous and sometimes shocking ride. Going far beyond the store walls, he will travel across the country and around the world to the farms, factories, warehouses, food expos and commodity trading floors that define the American diet, learning directly from the industry’s buyers, brokers, entrepreneurs and underworld operators. Weaving hands-on experiences and investigations in the field with intimate interviews, the show will ultimately reveal what’s actually at stake every time shoppers fill their carts.
Lorr, who previously wrote Hell-Bent about the world of extreme yoga, said, “I want to upend how we think about buying food. Retail grocery is a reflection, and this is going to be a ‘warts and all’ look in the mirror. We have a massive industry carefully calibrated to consumer demands, and it’s been doing a damn good job. But how? And at what cost? This show will be an entertaining exploration of a system that’s way too good to be true, unveiling every hero, villain, beauty and blemish behind it.”
“Ben’s expertise, wit, deep curiosity and empathic nature make him an ideal tour guide through what he cites as the ‘miracle’ of the American supermarket. Coming off a year when appreciation for grocery stores is off the charts, and rightly so, we think this project will amaze viewers and really hit home,” added Truly Original Co-CEOs and Executive Producers Steven Weinstock and Glenda Hersh.
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