According to the Food Marketing Institute, the average grocery store offers 38,718 items for sale. I called an FMI representative to confirm that this information was correct, and she assured me that even though “the average grocery store offers 38,718 items for sale” sounds like the most completely made up fact of all time, it is real.
This number is important because, like most of you, I buy the same 30 or whatever things every time I go to the grocery store, completely ignoring the other 38,688 options at my disposal. I don’t have the time or, in many cases, the stomach to buy more. Among the 38,688 items that I leave behind each week are some seriously weird and unappetizing foods.
You know the weird foods—chicken liver, leeks, pickled octopus cecum and all that other stuff only little old ladies in babushkas ever buy.
But these items are in the market, which means someone must actually be buying them. And if someone is actually buying them, there must be a perfectly good reason. So what are grocery store randoms good for?
I talked to a handful of nutritional experts about why someone should vary their diet and try new, off-the-beaten path foods. They all agreed, in general, that food variety is good for your health.
Then I went to the grocery store and photographed 50 different foods, an activity that aroused absolutely no suspicion from store employees or passersby, even in post-9/11 America. I shared the photos with my editor Brian, and we whittled the list down to 10 downright funky foods. I researched all 10 and discovered that there is a reason weird foods are sold in the market. Many of them have decent to good to excellent nutritional value.
The foods I found are weird to me, but maybe they are not weird to you. So if you eat smoked turkey neck every day, and you think I’m the freak because I don’t, then bully for you. The idea here isn’t to say you’re weird; it’s to share the health benefits of overlooked foods.
To see what all I found, check out this slideshow on Livestrong.