Many people have asked me how I grocery shop, so I thought I would share. When we began this transition to “real” food and non-GMO, I was very overwhelmed at the grocery store (namely, Publix). Everything that was familiar to me was no longer something I wanted to consume. I still wanted to have bread, cheese, snacks, salad dressing, soup, etc. in my home, but I wanted organic, non-GMO versions of these items. That’s where it gets difficult.
Food is personal. From our great-great grandmother’s secret recipes, to our favorite guilty pleasure that we slyly eat in the pantry when our kids aren’t looking, food plays an integral part in our lives. Special memories around our childhood, hometown, and holidays are often centered around food. So, it makes sense that changing something as simple as the brand of peanut butter we buy could be very challenging. Add the fact that the food industry spends upwards of 30 million dollars a year to make sure that processed food is, for lack of a better description, addictive, and we have a recipe for disaster. At the most basic level, we need food to live. Without food, we will die. It’s no wonder that it’s so personal.
My friend Suzanne told me about the documentary, A Place at the Table. Can you imagine telling your child to go to sleep so he will stop complaining that he is hungry? Did you know that you can be obese, but still starving? Did you know that $3.00 (the average food assistance amount per day) will buy over 3,000 calories in processed food, but only 300 calories of real food (fruit/vegetables/meat/dairy). Which would you choose if your child was starving? After watching the movie, I felt sad, angry, frustrated, and even more motivated to make change. While I know that I can’t single-handedly feed the 2 million hungry people in Atlanta by buying organic food, I do believe there is something to be said for supply and demand. Much of my food budget used to go towards conventional produce, non-organic, and GMO ridden foods. Not anymore. And I may only be one person (representing my family), but I still think a $10K+ hit per year for Publix is a big deal. If people stop buying the junk, industry will stop making the junk (or change it to be more addictive, as documented in this recent New York Times article: The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food). If the demand for cheap GMO corn goes way down, while the demand for healthy organic produce goes up, maybe the government will stop subsidizing Monsanto’s corn, and subsidizing the organic family farmer — or give some of the corn subsidy money to the school lunch program. Maybe.
What I’m saying is, I have a choice. Not everybody has the same choice that I have. We choose to buy organic and local foods. It’s more expensive. We make sacrifices to make up for the additional expense of eating real, wholesome food. It’s not easy. It takes more time. BUT, it’s worth it to me. Because every time I choose to buy Eden Organic canned beans, Or Ezekiel Cereal, or Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, I feel like I’m telling companies like Del Monte, Kellogg’s, and Heinz that I don’t want their highly processed products anymore. And when I spend money at My Dad & Me Family Farm, I’m supporting neighbors that are working hard to provide nutritious food and support our environment.
So here is what I do:
- Weekly – I go to Whole Foods and buy what I need for the week. I use the Paprika App (it’s AWESOME by the way) to make a meal plan and grocery list. When I get to the store, I pick up the Whole Deal flyer and check for coupons. Not everything at Whole Foods is organic or NON-GMO. Many people are confused about that. While Whole Foods does pledge to be non-GMO in their store brand (365), it’s not a guarantee. The word “organic” is everywhere in the store, so it can be confusing when shopping for produce. Look for stickers on your produce that begin with the number 9 (for organic). The reason I like Whole Foods so much is because there is a wide variety of options for organic foods (unlike at Publix).
- Weekly (or every two weeks) – I go to My Dad & Me Family Farm. I pick up raw milk, pastured eggs, raw honey, organic granola, any available produce they have, and grass fed meats from the freezer. I also visit the Farmers’ Markets in the spring/summer.
- Monthly – I stop into Trader Joe’s for some freezer staples and their yummy pita crackers. They have a non-gmo policy for their TJ Brand foods, but some of it is still highly processed (and non-organic), so it’s always best to read the labels carefully.
- Sometimes – I stop in Publix mid week when I run out of things. I purchase organic fruits/vegetables and sometimes I will pick up organic string cheese and frozen Ezekiel sprouted bread as well. I like buying organic stuff at Publix to feed into the supply and demand strategy.
Here is what my loot looks like when I get home. Tons of fruits and veggies. I buy lots of bananas because my kids also love this banana bread recipe. If the bananas get too brown before I’m ready to make it, I just mash them up and freeze them in a ziploc bag (three mashed bananas per bag). OR, I cut them into pieces and freeze for smoothies. We never waste a banana.
I also buy organic chicken packs at Costco, although this doesn’t guarantee the animals are humanely treated. It’s all about balance. We go through lots of peppers. Jake loves them so I buy the large peppers of all colors, and the mini sweet peppers as well. For deli meat, I buy the Applegate Ham and once in a while, the sliced salami. I don’t prefer deli meat for lunch, but Jeff and Kylie both eat it.
Rudi’s organic bakery is one of my favorite organic breads. It freezes really well, so I usually grab a couple loaves for the freezer too. I talked about Gorilla Munch before, and the kids love it on yogurt or with breakfast. It’s always only $2.99 a box at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
And here is a CRAZY good deal for snack bars (thanks to my pal Katie for telling me about it). I’m a big fan of Kit’s Organic Bars (made by the Clif Bar Company) because they only contain 3-4 ingredients and are 100% organic. For instance, the Peanut Butter bar has organic dates, organic peanuts, organic almonds, and sea salt. That’s it. Right now they have a store sale on the bars ($1.39 each instead of $1.59), PLUS there is a coupon in the Whole Deal Flyer for $1.50 off two bars, PLUS if you buy a whole box you get their 10% off “case deal”. SO, a box of TWELVE bars only cost me $6.00!!!!!! That’s right – only FIFTY CENTS a bar! I bought two boxes, but I’m thinking I need to go back and get more…..
How do you shop?