Navigating Your Local Market

Today is full of advice on how to eat whole, fresh food as opposed to packaged & processed foods. In light of today’s release of the movie Fed Up

I wanted to touch on how to navigate through your local market. I am often asked how to shop for food in a market that is overflowing with processed, packaged foods.

First, I recommend choosing a natural, whole food type of market that will provide you with many whole food options. These natural markets stock their shelves with many fresh, natural, non GMO and organic food choices. If this type of market is too pricey for your budget, main stream markets will have a natural food section & often times organic produce, fruit, dairy and meat.

Shop the Perimeter – what does this mean? Markets line the outside walls (perimeter) with fresh, whole foods such as fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, and eggs. I recommend shopping here first and filling your list. Peruse the interior aisles last once you have chosen your fresh foods. You are more likely to purchase fewer packaged foods this way.

Lastly, limit trips to large wholesale member based food stores. Purchasing food from these retailers tends to increase what is thrown away. Therefore creating unnecessary waste. Shop for what you need today and tomorrow rather than what you anticipate needing for the next week. You will find your shopping basket will be filled with fresh options rather than packaged.

I leave you with this…eat what’s in season when you can

How to Make Choosing Organic Less Overwhelming

By now, most of us have heard of The Environmental Working Group’s list of The Dirty Dozen or most contaminated foods.  This list of 12 foods that are commonly consumed on a regular basis are the exact foods you should absolutely ensure are organic before bringing them into your home.

The EWG’s list of The Dirty Dozen for 2013 are as follows:

Apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, potatoes, cherry tomatoes and hot peppers

You might be overwhelmed reviewing this list and thinking how will you convert your shopping list to organic for all of these items.  I knew I was when I first began looking into organic about 5 years ago.  One, price is always a concern as organic products tend to be more expensive than non organic products.  Second, if you are like me, I purchase most of these items on a regular basis and then not all grocery stores stock organic items of these 12 products.

To make this less overwhelming and much more manageable for you to embark on this major change to your shopping habits, eating habits and financial spending, I recommend breaking this list down into 12 manageable parts.

First, create your own list of products from The Dirty Dozen that you have in your refrigerator on a regular basis.  For some this may be just a few items and for some this may be the entire list.

Next, take a look at what is currently in season and highlight those items – for example, strawberries, potatoes, and spinach are in season now in most of the warmer regions while peaches will be coming into season soon.

CHOOSE ONE product that you will commit to purchasing only organic from this point forward.  I recommend shopping around to your local grocery stores, health food stores and farmer’s markets to compare pricing and see which retailer will offer the best price for you and your family.  If you are having difficulty choosing, I recommend starting with strawberries, since they are nearing the end of their season and choosing ONLY organic strawberries.  I will continue to share over the next coming weeks when to add another Dirty Dozen food to your organic purchases until you are purchasing only organic for all 12 foods.

If you are still not convinced that buying organic is worth the cost, possibly you can adapt my mantra.  I prefer to pay now than later.  If I spend money now on clean, organic, healthy, nutritious foods, I will not need to pay later at the doctor’s office.  Prevention now is critical to our long-term health.

Some tips:

Visit your local farmers markets regularly to see what is fresh, in season and organic.  This also gives you an opportunity to speak directly to the farmers.

Visit your local health food stores rather than the major grocery store chains for local, organic and many times inexpensive produce

Visit the farms direct if this is an option in your area creating a direct relationship with the farmer.  This takes out the middle man giving you produce that is more fresh and often times less expensive.

Remember this key point: Once you make the choice to buy a particular food organic, never buy non organic again for that product.  The goal is to continue adding organic produce to your list.  Each time you buy organic, you are improving the health of you and your family.