As more men do the grocery shopping, how are stores responding?

News flash! Men are doing more of the grocery shopping than ever before.

The story from the LA Times’  Emily Bryson York that ran in the business section of today’s Statesman certainly isn’t a revelation, but it’s nice to see news articles about how our domestic roles are changing. York’s news hook isn’t just that more men are shopping; she wanted to find out how grocery stores and manufacturers were responding to this change.

She only found a few that were making minor changes to accommodate men, who, according to one source in the story, “were terribly uncomfortable with the shopping experience.” Proctor and Gamble started playing around with “man aisles” in 2009, which grouped the personal care products targeted toward men in a single place instead of spread across the entire health-care section. Whee, so exciting, I know.

She tracked down a VP of “breakthrough innovation” at Kraft Foods Inc. who was quite proud of the “liquid flavor droplets” that his company had come up with to make water more appealing.

With somewhere between 30 and 50 percent of men doing the primary shopping for their households, I can’t imagine that mega food companies like Kraft or P&G will stop with water-flavoring droplets.

My favorite part of the story came from Phil Lempert, a grocery store expert who has built a crazy successful  consulting business called the Supermarket Guru. I’ve interviewed him for stories before, and the man knows his grocery stores. Lempert pointed out that many men are cooking to connect with their kids and, if they happen to be victims of the “mancession,” help provide for their families even when they don’t have a paycheck coming in.

“It’s very different from the whole metrosexual phenomenon of six, seven, eight years ago, but a much more down-to-earth [approach], not trying to show off, but trying to be part of the family,” Lempert said.

The above photo appears to be from such a dad. Dave77459 of Houston posted this photo on Flickr way back in 2007 with the caption: “Hitting the grocery store after dance to stock up for the weekend. I have the kids which means food flies out of the larder.”

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A reminder about the Feminist Kitchen book club meeting this week: On Tuesday (Jan. 10), we’ll gather at 7 p.m. at Thrice Cafe, which is located in the former Cafe Caffeine space next to Thai Fresh at 909 W. Mary St., to talk about both the book and the movie adaptation of “The Help.” Even if you know the general idea of the plot, you’ll be able to follow along our discussion. Come have a glass of wine (or a beer or a pot of tea or a plateful of Thai food) and join us!

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