Where Mainers go for sustenance: Data analysts compare numbers of bars, grocery stores

(Reuters file photos)

(Reuters, TNS file photos)

Map-making and number crunching website FlowingData dug up and updated a 2008 analysis by a previous group on the numbers of bars and grocery stores across the U.S.

The exercise, apparently, was to gauge how people in different regions are gaining their sustenance, although it’s not immediately clear why they didn’t also include restaurants, gardens or other ways people acquire food and beverage.

Most of the country, the analysts found, have either approximately the same numbers of both or way more grocery stores than bars, which seems at first blush to be a healthy ratio.

Here in Maine, that trend appears to hold true, with three times the number of grocery stores as bars in what looks like the Lewiston-Auburn area in particular.

As you can see, Wisconsin is what both FlowingData and the previous analyst group called America’s “Beer Belly,” based on these figures.

A couple notes of context from FlowingData’s Nathan Yau:

“From a per capita perspective, Wisconsin has the third highest rate with about 8 bars per 10,000 people. North Dakota and Montana take the one and two spots at 9.9 and 8.6 bars per 10,000 people, respectively. Delaware, Maryland, and Mississippi have the lowest rates, all with under 1.5 bars per 10,000 people. …

[H]igher rates [of bars] don’t necessarily point to higher volumes of drinking. You can look to drinking estimates from the World Health Organization or OECD for those comparisons. I think the bar versus grocery store comparison says more about culture than anything else.”