What we can learn from fresh beef, canned corn, and other million dollar groceries.

There are 493,000—give or take a new baby or two—of us residing here in Sonoma County. In other words, you’ve got nearly a half million neighbors, all of whom would ideally like to eat at least three times during each and every day.

Since few of our legion are able to grow all of the food we consume, nearly half a million of us regularly go to the grocery store, the corner bodega, or the mini mart to pick up a few supplies.

Which supplies naturally snowball into staggering totals quite quickly.

Carrots Flipped

Michael Woolsey Photography

For example, if Sonoma County residents who buy bread, beef, bacon, and cheese are using those ingredients to whip up bacon cheeseburgers at home, they’re collectively spending $138.3 million per year on those ingredients—and that’s not counting the tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles that make those burgers truly sing. We spend an additional $20 million each year on the tomatoes and lettuce; pickles lag a pucker or two behind.

Want something salty and crunchy with that burger? Of course you do. Potato chips and related snack sales locally come in at $30.5 million a year. Perhaps you prefer to make your own fries. So good when they’re baked! Potatoes collectively set us back $10.9 million.

And we do love our beef, a best-selling protein at Sonoma County grocery stores, with some $62.7 million in annual sales. Beef is hotly followed by pork at $45.1 million, poultry at $44.9 million, and seafood at $36.8 million. Bacon comes in at $9 million—anyone game to figure out what that is per slice?—and cheese at a whopping $36.4 million.

Looking at numbers drawn from the geographic stat finder Esri.com, we do pause to wonder where the vast gluten-free nation might reside, because sales figures reflect that we annually purchase $151.2 million worth of baked goods and grains, including dropping $30.2 million on that demon bread alone. Like the occasional donut? Turns out that most of us do. County residents spend $17.4 million a year on such sweet tooth items as donuts, coffee cakes, sweet rolls, and their yummy, sugary, oh-maybe-I’ll-have-just-one kin.

County residents spend $17.4 million a year on such sweet tooth items as donuts, coffee cakes, sweet rolls, and their yummy, sugary, oh-maybe-I’ll-have-just-one kin.

But if your teeth suffer from the savages of sweet rolls, the good news is that local consumers have plenty of company in their love of spoonable sauces and pre-made gummable gravies, Sonoma County shoppers dropping a cool annual $16.7 million on these items alone.

But not all is make-and-bake Cinnabons and pyramids of canned gravy. We spend over $209 million on those fruits and veggies that love our bodies so well and $35 million on fresh milk products, while at the same time forking over more than $2 million a year on canned corn. Canned corn, we hardly knew ye.

Lunch meat? $7.3 million. Hot dogs? $6.6 mill. Good coffee? $14 million. Crap coffee (OK, freeze-dried and instant—yes, there are obviously fans): $8.6 million. Tea, $8.8 mill; non-carbonated fruit drinks, $7 million.

If you’re buying water for home, you’re adding to the $15.8 million annually spent by the neighbors. If you’re buying sports drinks, you’re pouring $4.3 million over each other’s heads at the end of a winning soccer game.

And we’re sure that you already knew this, but if you choose to enjoy a lovely adult beverage outside of the confines of your humble abode, prepare to pay the markup. Sonoma County drinkers annually spend $75.4 million on beer purchased through grocery stores and restaurants; $55.1 million on wine. Figures simply don’t exist for the margarita millions or Maker’s Mark millions—but we soberly reckon them to also be in the millions.

The moral of our brief swing through Sonoma County Numbers Land? Spend your millions locally. Invest in bacon cheeseburgers. And please, try not to eat quite so much canned gravy.


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