Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Healthy Choices at the Grocery Store - Part 1

I thought I'd share 10 tips on how to make your trips to the grocery store a little healthier.  These are some of the things I do or try to do each trip.  I have a very limited budget for food so I have had to learn to be very careful - and I'm a picky shopper.  We read a lot of you well know!

1.  I'm sure most of you know that you should shop the perimeter of your grocery store.  The real food is usually not found in the aisles, although you still need to be careful with what you find along the perimeter.

2.   Ask yourself if this product contains GMOs?  Y'all know about the dangers of GMOs right? You can read more here and here.  If it has soy, you can pretty much be assured it has GMOs - you can't find a soybean seed in the USA that is guaranteed to be GMO free - thanks to those wonderful people at Monsanto. If it is "beet" sugar instead of "cane"sugar - GMOs.  You even have to be careful of corn now.  High fructose corn syrup is SO bad for your body and is most likely contaminated with GMOs.  One reason to avoid sodas.  If I even think it has been contaminated by GMOs, I don't buy it.  This is one reason we grow a large garden each year and can, freeze and dehydrate the fruit of our labors.  We use heirloom varieties that I know are safe.

3.  If you are purchasing produce or fruit, was it grown in the USA?  There are enough horrible chemicals allowed in US food production but in other is much worse.  I've never understood why a chemical that is banned in the US can be used by a large corporation in another country and then that food is allowed to be imported into the US.  This reminds me of a story my Grandma used to tell about horses and locking the barn.  If the fruit or produce came from another country, it doesn't go into my cart.

4.   Is it organic?  I grow organically and try very hard to only purchase organic produce and fruits.  They cost a little more but I believe that we make that cost up by not having to visit the doctor quite so much, being healthier and feeling good. Grocery stores are waking up to the fact that there is a demand for organic food. So are farmer's markets. Ten years ago, I was the only person selling organic produce at our farmer's market.  Now, there are more organic farmers than those growing with chemicals.

5.   Let's talk about meat.  I want my meat to be antibiotic and hormone free.  I also want it to be raised in a grassy field (free-ranged) as our Father designed instead of in a cattle lot or factory.  I prefer grass fed beef - so much healthier and safer.  I don't buy any beef - haven't in over 10 years - because we raise our own.  We also raise and butcher chickens each year but we do purchase chicken also.  I want that chicken to have been free-ranged and not treated with growth hormones, antibiotics or injected with a 15% solution of anything! I only purchase when there is a good sale and then I buy in quantity and put it in the freezer.  I don't purchase between sales.  If we run out, then we don't eat chicken.

6.  Was it grown or raised locally? I'd much rather buy from a local farmer than a faceless corporate entity!  I want to support small farms.  If I don't, and if you don't, pretty soon our food supply will be completely in the hands of corporations.  I like to be able to visit the farm, see the condition the animals are raised in, or see how the produce and fruit has been grown.  I know who I can trust at my local farmer's market and who to avoid.  If you visit there often, and I hope you do, you'll learn also.

7.  We eat seasonally.  It saves a lot of money, is good for our bodies and usually eliminates the need to buy produce from other countries such as tomatoes from Mexico in February.  Or watermelons from Central American in January.  You get the picture.

8.  How was it preserved...or processed?  If it has been irradiated, microwaved or is chock full of chemicals it doesn't go home with me. You know as well as I do that they can't keep meat, fruit, and other perishable items on shelves in a non-refrigerated portion of the store without using some of those methods.  Not for my family!

9.  Avoid convenience foods, they are expensive! Why buy a "box" of dehydrated "mashed potatoes" when you can buy 5 pounds of potatoes for less?  They are easy to make and serve and I would imagine that real potatoes must taste better than the dehydrated stuff. Same goes with a lot of this fake boxed food.  Macaroni and cheese, potatoes au gratin (and 20 other "flavors"), biscuits, soups, hamburger helper type meals, pizza in a box...and the list goes on.  I guess people don't want to take the time to cook anymore - it sure isn't hard to do.  Perhaps girls aren't being taught how to cook  so they purchase pre-made meals.  It amazes me to see peoples' carts at the store filled with boxes and frozen packages but no sign of vegetables, lettuce, fruits, potatoes, real food.   And the cost...  oh. my.

10.   Ask yourself, can I buy this at my farmer's market during the season?  We are blessed to have a wonderful farmer's market close to home.  If I can buy it from a local farmer as opposed to a corporation - I always choose the farmer.  Take your list to your local farmer's market and shop there first.  If you can't find it there, then visit your local grocery store.

If you don't know how to cook, it isn't too late.  Get a good book (The Joy of Cooking - published before 1960)  and read it.  I love the OLD cookbooks - check your library sales.  Older cookbooks don't tell you to get a jar of this, a box of that and a bag of something else and put them together.  Dear readers!  That is NOT cooking - it is combining! I was in an upscale restaurant last year and they had a delicious "house dressing made from scratch".  They also sold their own cookbook. I asked our waitress if the recipe for that dressing was in the book - she said "no, but I'll go write it down for you". I was so excited!  When she handed me the note, I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing.  It said..."take a bottle of Italian Dressing, add a bottle of Russian dressing and a bottle of Raspberry Vinagrette Dressing.  Mix well."  Seriously! Cooking from scratch takes more time but it is SO much cheaper and healthier than combining a bunch of fake food!

If you don't cook and you have daughters, learn together!  I've been teaching my boys since they were young.  This has really been a blessing to me lately!  As you know, I'm in a wheelchair for the next few weeks, and although my Mama has been cooking, and my church family is blessing, the rest of the time my boys are more than capable of keeping the kitchen running.  My tummy is thankful!

In Part 2 of Healthy Choices at the Grocery store, I'll share the 10 most important chemicals to avoid.

May all of your tummies be filled with real food,

1 comment:

  1. Love this post!
    It makes me crazy at work to see all the people bringing bought frozen meals or getting carry out for lunch every day!
    Then for birthday Friday people complaining about how expensive cakes are to buy -- what is easier than making a cake? It only takes about 10 minutes to whip one up from scratch and then the oven does the rest of the work!


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