Grocery store gross-out

Saturday, May 15, 2010

When I go shopping for groceries, I go to a local chain of grocery stores that has very little of what you'd find in the "centre section" of the supermarket. It's got fruit, veg, meat, dairy, fish, deli, bread, baked goods, coffee and some staples like a few "healthier" cereals, hand made pasta sauces and noodles, etc. There is also a small dried goods section where you can get rice, lentils, etc., one section of bagged chips and popcorn and a small smattering of bulk sweets and nuts. They also have a huge selection of organic produce, chicken and beef.

For the most part, what they have are basics, and really, over the last year, what has become most of what my family needs. Occasionally we'll run to Costco for things like juice boxes, bulk bags of raw nuts, big jugs of honey, or other things we can buy much cheaper, but for the most part this local "farm" type grocery store is more than sufficient. Since making the switch to organic, our grocery bills are certainly higher than they used to be at this store but we also used to shop more at the traditional grocery store nearby, so in the end, I still think we're saving money by cutting processed garbage out of our diets.

Mr. Pick-it-up is away visiting his brother at the other end of the country right now, so in an attempt to cut corners and stuff down the anxiety I always feel when he leaves and I'm alone with the kids for a number of days (anxiety that is usually unfounded as I almost always surprise myself by establishing a little rhythm in his absence) I decided to visit the traditional grocery store, and get some convenience foods. The first thing I did when I walked in was to go clear over to their organic section in order to stock up on produce. Here's the thing: they maybe had 10 fruits or veggies in said "section". Very disappointing. Very.  I got what I could, and very little else from rest of the shelves.

Next I walked over to the breads section. Every label had the usual "glucose-fructose" label, even if it was marketed as 100% whole grain. Sigh.  I chose the least-bad version of it and kept moving. Next I passed the fish (farmed, with only one wild choice, which was cod or some other white fish I'm not crazy about) then the meat section. All trimmed, no bones, no skin, every breast the same size, same was like going to South Beach in Miami. Chickens should not all be exactly the same size. However, if they're from a factory instead of a farm (like all the silicone in South Beach) they are scarily the after the next. Gross.

So I decided I would comb the centre aisles for ideas, and as I walked by brightly-coloured packages I kept hearing Michael Pollack's words from Food Inc. in my head "the illusion of variety". It's so true. That entire store had thousands of products with the same repeated ingredients in each one: hydrogenated X oil, enriched wheat flour, sugar, salt, dextrose, sodium benzoate. It is like looking at a store with a thousand muffins, all made with the same base, but they have a different special ingredient: some are chocolate chip, some are dried cranberry, but in the end, it's the same muffin mix in each one. And that mix is full of salt, sugar, chemicals and nutritionless crap.

Really I tried. I did. I ended up with two convenience items: plain potato chips (my weakness), and Annie's organic mac'n cheese. Whole wheat noodles and cheese, all organic. It's as close as I can come. As much as I thought I could stuff down my values and my strong belief in eating REAL, NUTRITIOUS food, in the end, I just couldn't. My kids eat elsewhere (aside from my home). I know that they will get garbage food on occasion. I totally get that. So my philosophy is just not to give it to them at home. What they get other than from me, is more than enough, thank you.  And the more they see what is "the norm" in my house, the more they think it's normal. Little man was telling his sister that she should eat fruit because it's healthy and she'll grow big and strong if she does. I'm really glad it's sinking in; it makes it all worthwhile.


Alyson said...

Excellent post. I feel the same way. Unfortunately I compromise way more than you. I'm slowly getting there however...
I'm going to copy this and post it to my blog and plug this because you NEED EVERYONE to read your stuff!!! I Don't need to say much because you say it FOR me ;)
love you.

Oh...and I was at my uncles. He uses his bread maker, has a bread slicer, and freezes his bread. He does a bunch of loaves at a time. This way he always has 'fresh' homemade bread!!

Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!


Kirsten said...

Thank you Christian, I'm honoured. If you ever have any post suggestions, by all means let me know. Meanwhile, thanks again for sharing your day with me. :)

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