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Infographic: Food and Drink Spending by City
May 13, 2010 8:37 PM   Subscribe

Infographic: Food spending in the biggest U.S. cities. Austin, TX is living large. Detroit, MI must be losing weight.
posted by jjray (34 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Actually, since cheap food tends to have the most empty calories, Detroit likely has an obesity issue.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:46 PM on May 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Generic mac-and-cheese and spam and Kool-Aid and Wonderbread called, and they said they want to cost more than artisanal cheese and fresh, off-season arugula and clementines and seven-grain-loaf, because poor peoples are always skinny, amirite?
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:50 PM on May 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


WE'RE #1
WE'RE #1
posted by 23skidoo at 8:52 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


are clementines really the problem? I mean they are delicious, but the problem?

I guess I personally do spend a lot on food. :(
posted by djduckie at 8:57 PM on May 13, 2010


Does this include both food and drink? Because Austin is all about the outdoor happy hour and I heard they also have a little bit of a music scene, which sometimes includes alcohol consumption. Arlington is full of 20-somethings with a fat bank account and has plenty of bars. Etc.

BTW bundle.com: Fix your anchor tags.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:58 PM on May 13, 2010


Something bothers me about these numbers.. They're mostly symmetrical, which would imply that people aren't eating out more here in Austin than other parts of the country, we're just spending more on food in general. Also, it means that Austin's spot isn't caused by happy hour alcohol consumption :) Although.. I wish it was.

In my experience Austin is somewhat cheaper than the last place I lived, Seattle. In addition, cost of living is slightly more expensive in the bottom bracket city of Detroit.

The numbers imply we're eating a considerable amount more food than the national average. But, if I remember correctly, Austin's been on the top 10 fittest city list repeatedly.

Possible causes..
* Bundle's data distribution isn't homogenous across the nation
* They are accounting for credit card transactions only, and some cities are more cash based
* Umm.. They made this up?
posted by hanoixan at 9:12 PM on May 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, since cheap food tends to have the most empty calories, Detroit likely has an obesity issue.

Obviously. I let the sarcasm roll a bit too subtly there.
posted by jjray at 9:17 PM on May 13, 2010


In my experience Austin is somewhat cheaper than the last place I lived, Seattle.

A lot of the country is cheaper to eat out in than Washington State, but that's for a good reason -- the minimum wage in WA is the highest in the country, and I don't think that restaurant employers are allowed do work the "we'll pay you less and you'll make it up in tips" thing that flies in many states. The servers and cooks are paid a (not quite living, but still) not bad wage, and then get tips on top of that.

I don't mind paying a bit more when I eat out because of that. I don't eat out as often as I did when I lived in, say, Phoenix, or southern NM, but at least I know when I do the staff at the restaurant aren't getting hosed.
posted by hippybear at 9:21 PM on May 13, 2010


Garland, Hialeah, Boise, RENO, but no Salt Lake City?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 9:27 PM on May 13, 2010


OH YEAH! Suck it down, bitches! We're... fatter than you... wait a minute.

If I had to guess, we're probably at the top because probably more than half the grocery stores here are either upscale "market" type places or hippie/organic joints, so it's probably just that we're paying more because we're the type of people that love to buy Free Range Organic Fair Trade Whatever.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:32 PM on May 13, 2010


Does this include both food and drink? Because Austin is all about the outdoor happy hour and I heard they also have a little bit of a music scene, which sometimes includes alcohol consumption.

Yeah, there are a shitload of bars here (as well as a University, which means lots of young drunks) and they're always packed on weekends, but come on, we can't have more bars than LA or NYC. That can't be that big a factor.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:35 PM on May 13, 2010


Detroit, MI must be losing weight.

Maybe they simply eat a lot of cheap, highly processed food?
posted by Soupisgoodfood at 9:58 PM on May 13, 2010


Detroit, MI must be losing weight

Why, because their food spending is low? Apparently you have never heard of White Castle.

(or, what Soupisgoodfood said, but with local flavor)
posted by rkent at 10:13 PM on May 13, 2010


Looking closer at the infographic, I wonder how they selected the cities they used? Supposedly "the largest cities", but Spokane WA is larger than quite a few of the places they list, and is no place to be found.
posted by hippybear at 10:17 PM on May 13, 2010


Allow me to reiterate, but more directly: The sentence "Detroit, MI must be losing weight," was not altogether serious, given Detroit's regular ranking among the fattest of U.S. cities. I again note my failure to convey ironic tone, and suggest reading previous comments to such effect.
posted by jjray at 10:34 PM on May 13, 2010


Healthy food costs more then fattening stuff.
posted by delmoi at 11:32 PM on May 13, 2010


Raleigh is 4th and Durham is 5th? I'm trying to make sense of this. Yes there are some expensive restaurants but there are also far more cheap fast food chains. Plus, groceries are pretty cheap here. I find it very hard to believe we are spending more on food than L.A. I'll tell you this, I doubt that most Raleighites are spending lots of money on healthy foods.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:07 AM on May 14, 2010


It is kind of a head-scratching kind of graphic. Nashville is listed as having more average per-household spending on dining out than San Francisco. I love Nashville, but there's no way it has more great places to eat out than SF. Maybe SF diners are more finicky.
posted by blucevalo at 6:33 AM on May 14, 2010


These numbers are per-household spending; doesn't the fact that different cities can have very different average household sizes confound any kind of real comparison? Really, you'd rather be looking at average per-capita food spending for people over the age of 18 or 21 or so, wouldn't you?

This could explain the Nashville vs. SF thing: if Nashville has 20% bigger households but only 3.8% higher food spending, a given person in SF is spending more on food.
posted by letourneau at 6:54 AM on May 14, 2010


Damn torchy's is tasty though.
posted by mad bomber what bombs at midnight at 6:59 AM on May 14, 2010


I'd be more interested in seeing the percentage people spend on food/drink out of their total spending. The dollar amounts must be very skewed by cost of living. For instance, the blurb on NYC says that if they had considered Manhattan as its own city, they would have put it on top, with over $13,000 of spending on food/drink per year. This says more about the cost of living in Manhattan than how much Manhattanites eat and drink.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:05 AM on May 14, 2010


I got a stern talking to at the farm to market store on congress when i commented on the $2.50 price tag on a sprig of cilantro.
posted by phoffmann at 7:09 AM on May 14, 2010


I really enjoy seeing these info-graphics that make numbers somewhat more accessable.
posted by candasartan at 7:15 AM on May 14, 2010


Hi everyone. I work at Bundle and worked on this report, and to read the comments here is awesome. I also wanted to answer the question about population that huggybear and mr_crash_davis etc. etc. raised.

We looked at the 102 biggest cities, as defined by the US Census (find the data here). Spokane just barely missed the cut; Salt Lake City is No. 125. But since you asked, people in Spokane spent $4,924 on food & drink in 2009 ($1,946 on dining out, $2,978 on groceries). People in Salt Lake City spent $6,603 overall ($2,476 and $4,127, respectively). All this data is available on our site, by the way.

And thanks, RobotVoodooPower. Anchor tags are fixed.
posted by janet lynn at 8:00 AM on May 14, 2010


It's probably near impossible to make it, but it'd be interesting to see a list of calories and nutrients consumed by each city. We could see who's eating the most empty calories, who has the most "efficient" diet, who eats the least, who eats the most, etc.

Any statisticians/nutritionists with nothing better to do want to take a fair sample of people in your town and put together a MeFi project?
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:10 AM on May 14, 2010


I bet that I contributed more to Austin's average than I'd like to admit. But the tacos and queso are so good! If drinks contribute to the "dining out" figure, doubly so.

I got a stern talking to at the farm to market store on congress when i commented on the $2.50 price tag on a sprig of cilantro.

Even if their cilantro is organic and hand picked and all that there's no way it's actually worth literally ten times that of the grocery store less than half a mile down the street. I like Farm to Market but whoever does their pricing is living in some sort of fantasy world.
posted by malthas at 8:19 AM on May 14, 2010


I'm new to Austin, and I'm quite surprised at the price tags at the farmer's markets here. I can't swear on it, but I remember prices at the farmer's market in Waltham MA as being more reasonable.
posted by of strange foe at 9:42 AM on May 14, 2010


They are right about that Torchy's thing. And there are food carts all over the place. Also when Austinites go to the movies they eat a whole meal. We were bound to be at the top of that list.
posted by bluishorange at 9:59 AM on May 14, 2010


Austin is really a pretty thin city, all in all. But yeah. Torchy's. Yeah..... And Alamo.
posted by kaseijin at 12:14 PM on May 14, 2010


I think you also have to factor in that Austin is known as a foodie city. A LOT of people here will pay a premium for "quality" food. So I don't know that we're eating more food, so much as we're just paying a lot more for what we eat, and making it count.
posted by kaseijin at 12:16 PM on May 14, 2010


Doesn't Austin have a little local organic co-op on the east side for produce, somewhere south of the old airport? We used to go there all the time back in 2003-2004, but with the selection being very seasonal I remember there wasn't much to buy in February and March. I live in the OKC area now and they have an awesome local co-op, where they truck monthly orders of Oklahoma-grown co-op stuff to various places around the area and you go pick it up.
posted by crapmatic at 12:17 PM on May 14, 2010


crapmatic, are referring to Boggy Creek Farms?
posted by jefbla at 12:35 PM on May 14, 2010


If you told me that Chula Vista (just above Detroit in the 'we don't spend much, plus we're probably obese' cateogry) had more people than Salt Lake City, I would have laughed in your face. Who knew?
posted by librarylis at 5:37 PM on May 14, 2010


Being HQ to high priced Whole Foods doesn't help us on the home-cooking spend side.

And what kaseijin said. There's a bunch of us paying far too much for BBQ at Rudys, or a burger at Mighty Fine.

This got me curious to look at my numbers for last year in quicken: $1.4K on beer/booze, $6.5K on groceries, $3.5K on dining out. Family of 2 & we feed friends on friday night regularly. We're overacheivers..
posted by TuffAustin at 6:39 PM on May 14, 2010


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