Grocery Shopping Tips
Excerpt from "In the Kitchen with Family and Friends" by Karen Lee
With all the mind-boggling issues about the health and safety of food, how can anyone go grocery shopping without being depressed? I follow the steps below when making my selections, and I still have a lot of fun in the grocery store!
1, USDA ORGANIC
If food has the organic certification, I consider it safe to purchase as long as it’s fresh and not full of sugar or sodium. If I have more than one organic brand to choose from, I next check the company label to see where the product came from. I buy the organic product that came from a grower or supplier closest to the grocery store where I’m shopping.
2. INGREDIENTS TO AVOID IN CONVENTIONAL FOODS
It’s very important to take a little extra time and read the labels on the food you intend to feed yourself and your family. Simply do a quick scan of the list of ingredients, and if any of the following ingredients show up, put that item back on the grocer’s shelf.
NO - MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (MSG)
NO - ASPARTAME, EQUAL, NUTRASWEET
NO – BHA or BHT
NO - NO BY-PRODUCTS FROM MEAT OR POULTRY
NO - Margarine
I also try to avoid:
HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
BLEACHED FLOUR (“Enriched” flour is usually bleached)
SODIUM NITRITE (cured bacon and most hot dogs)
ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS, COLORS, & PRESERVATIVES
3. FRESH PRODUCE
Fresh fruits and vegetables, grown locally, in season are your best healthy choices. If you want produce that isn’t available fresh, choose canned or jarred selections before frozen. More nutrients are lost in the freezing process than in the canning process.
Grocery Shopping Tips, continued
4. EXPIRATION DATES
I always check the dates stamped on refrigerated selections. Grocery stores will place the oldest item toward the front or on the top of the stack. If an item looks a little haggard, I’ll grab a fresh one with a date farther in the future from the back of the stack. Sometimes you can safely buy a product that’s on sale because it’s approaching its expiration date. Be careful, though. Beef is usually pretty safe if it has been refrigerated continuously, but outdated poultry can make you really, really sick, even if you cook it thoroughly.
5. GO LOCAL
It doesn’t make sense to buy oranges from California when you live in Florida and it doesn’t make sense to buy cheese from Wisconsin when you live in Vermont. It makes even less sense to buy produce from Peru, Mexico, or Chile when almost every conceivable food item is grown here in the USA. We consumers contribute to global warming when we choose to buy products that are shipped thousands of miles in diesel-powered freight trucks. Read the labels! Be a smart shopper! It makes a difference!
6. BORN IN THE USA!
I don’t buy fresh produce that is grown outside of the USA, unless it is USDA certified organic (the USDA does certify many foreign products like bananas) and unless an American brand is unavailable. It’s my opinion that it is too risky to trust the agricultural practices in other countries. Our own government has a big enough challenge regulating health standards here at home. Another reason for buying American products is to help support the American farmer and our domestic economy.