Unlike most things, food actually does grow on trees, but often we skip the harvesting and head straight for our local supermarket. And there's no reason not to with aisle after aisle filled with everything we could possibly need from kitchen staples and health food items to household goods. But with different grocery stores on every corner and each offering its own diverse line of products, which one is best and why?
This is the question that we posed to our readers and the American public. To remain objective, we didn't want to base our results on each grocery store's highest profits or number of locations. The best grocery stores are about more than that. Rather, we set out to find which market serves its customers the best -- and most importantly, which store keeps its patrons happy, well feed, and coming back week after week.
We conducted a national survey with 100 different stores ranging from national chains to regional favorites. To compile this list, we turned to an expert panel to help determine the best of the best. The Daily Meal's Culinary Content Network includes some of America's preeminent food bloggers. These are people from across America who love food and who spend a considerable amount of time in their favorite grocery stores looking for the best produce, products, and overall experience. To be fair, we only chose grocery stores that were in more than one U.S. state, with the exception of H.E.B in Texas and California's Ralphs, because, well, they are awesome and, as two of the largest states in the continental U.S., they could be considered a "region" by themselves.
On our quest to find out which supermarkets are best, we asked panelists to consider a few different criteria: quality and range of products, cleanliness, customer service, availability of products, and price. Aren't these the most important qualities, after all?
Upon opening the survey, we delved head first into the power of social media -- mainly Twitter and Facebook. We tweeted at every grocery store with a valid Twitter handle to get their fans involved in the vote and posted on our own Facebook page to help spread the word. And it sure paid off with more than 1,200 votes cast.
While some national brands landed on top like Safeway, Costco, and Kroger, other smaller and more regional markets like Wegmans, Fareway, and Stew Leonard's made the cut. In addition to the powerhouse that is Whole Foods Market, other health-focused stores like Sprouts Farmers Market and Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers were on the list. Hypermarkets like SuperTarget and Walmart Supercenters came in with high scores based primarily on their abundance of products and competitive prices. Most notable and surprising, however, is the top 10 ranking of Food Bazaar Supermarkets, which has 20 locations focusing on bringing ethnic and international ingredients to the greater New York area.
You may question the results and think that it's obvious that we should replace a number of winners with grocery stores you think are more deserving. With so many mom-and-pop stores meeting all of the criteria and more, we didn't want to neglect the smaller stores, but had to narrow it down on a national and regional scale. Not seeing your favorite store on the list? Tell us your favorites and we'll be sure to include them on next year's list of nominees.
We're excited to toast these 30 Best Supermarkets that are changing the way we shop, helping us to eat better, and providing one-stop shopping to help ease our busy lives. We salute the hard-working people that make grocery shopping a rewarding experience and thank our panelists and voters for helping us on our survey.
From coast to coast, these are the best supermarkets where America likes to grocery shop. You can be certain we will continue to sign up more trusted panelists and refine the process by which we make our choices. What will the next installment bring? You'll find out on The Daily Meal.
-- Emily Jacobs, The Daily Meal
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