Health and Nutrition

Making Peace with the Supermarket

I don’t mean to be snobby. But let’s be real. I’m totally snobby about food shopping. As someone interested in nutrition and health, I’ve developed a kind of phobia of the supermarket in recent years. Thanks to Michael Pollan, food industry documentaries, and scary shit you read about food in the papers, I can’t help but see aisles and aisles of chemicals and carcinogens rather than food items. Even shopping the outer aisles of the supermarket, where the whole foods are supposedly at, scares me. I fear the hormones in milk. The color additives in cheese. The dyed salmon. The sickly looking produce covered in pesticide. I started shopping pretty much exclusively at my local health food store and the farmers market.

What finally got me back to the supermarket were dinner parties and cook-offs. When feeding one plus an occasional guest, paying a premium on food is totally affordable. OK it’s not really a premium, food should cost more than what the average American pays and that’s why we’re eating fake food all the time. But regardless, we’re used to it and it now feels like a lot of money. So when feeding a large party, I simply didn’t have the budget to purchase everything at the farmers market. I sheepishly returned to where I used to shop, KeyFood, with my tail between my legs. (Side note: I really want a tail. Wouldn’t that be crazy fun?!)

I’ve slowly rekindled a relationship with the supermarket. It’s hypocritical to shun them–a lot of farmers at the farmers market use conventional methods as opposed to organic, and  likewise, purchasing organic food items at the health food store from a huge national brand isn’t necessarily the most nutritious food either. I still stand by my beliefs that purchasing most of my food from farmers markets is the best thing I can do, followed by second best: organic food from health food stores. But the most important practice everyone needs to learn is purchasing whole foods, even if it’s at the supermarket. The supermarket even has some great advantages–it’s often cheaper and more convenient to get to, they have lots of sales, and they have a much larger variety of products. So, I’ve decided that it’s not a life-and-death situation to occasionally purchase butter from the KeyFood. it’s really not that big a deal. I have made peace with the supermarket.

Where do you do your food shopping? Do you ever get freaked out my supermarkets like I do?

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4 thoughts on “Making Peace with the Supermarket

  1. I totally agree with you on that one. I am a total food snob – I only go to Whole Foods, gourmet shops, or farmer’s markets for my food. I occasionally go to my local supermarket since it’s the most convenient option and the products in there scare me. Then and again, I don’t eat processed foods. I forget that the majority of America eats differently than I do. I’d recommend this book, it was a really interesting read: http://www.amazon.com/The-Kitchen-Counter-Cooking-School/dp/0670023000

  2. I’m also a major food snob. I stick to my health food stores and farmer’s markets too. I love how you mentioned “food should cost more than what the average American pays and that’s why we’re eating fake food all the time.” I think this is something the majority of people really don’t understand. Our food is ridiculously cheap and the public is just used to it being that way. I’m all for paying more to have something that actually makes me feel good.

    • Yeah, I really wish more Americans would get on board with this idea. But even for people who intellectually know food shouldn’t be so cheap, they’re still just so used to it that in pains them to pay almost double!

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