Shopping at Whole Foods Market is fun for me. I enjoy the colors and scents of its fresh produce, I like the gourmet-style prepared food section and I love its organic meats and wild fish counters. I am a food lover, yes, but my parents have also owned health food stores for more than 20 years; health food stores are part of my life.
I was not surprised that my favorite big grocery store ranked number one on Health magazine's healthiest grocery store list, and I also am happy that mainstream chains are making an effort to offer better food choices. Since I moved to Kansas a year ago, I have noticed how difficult it is to shop for healthy foods at chain grocers, especially if you don’t know what healthy foods really are. This list from CNN, courtesy Health magazine, is promising.
Living far away from a Whole Foods Market has forced me to look for an organic CSA (community supported agriculture), which next spring will provide me with organic, locally grown produce and poultry; I still need to go to the grocery story for grains, fruits and the occasional packaged cookie, however.
There is a health food store near where I live with a good amount of good-for-you foods, but its prices are high, probably because as a small co-op they don’t have purchasing power. This, I believe, is one of the reasons many people shun healthy foods—because they think it is more expensive. Most days I end up going to Dillon’s, where I go from the produce section, with its limited variety of organic veggies, to the natural foods section, which has organic staples, like pasta and grains, canned and packaged foods, and juices and sweets.
When I don’t find what I am looking for in this section, I go aisle to aisle looking for what I need. This is where I have the most problems because I feel that I have to check every single label for high fructose corn syrup and monosodium glutamate (MSG), as well as artificial colors and preservatives. I have found these unhealthy additives in all kinds of items, including so-called natural breads and sausages. Somehow they are able to hide in the ingredients list of foods with the word "natural" on their labels.
Lately, there are more organic and 100 percent natural products at Dillon’s at very good prices under the company's private label, Naturally Preferred; they also carry organic chicken and 100 percent natural beef. Looking at Health magazine's list, I am happy to see that this is a national trend—not just because it will be easier for me to shop, but because by offering natural and organic foods at good prices, it may help consumers choose better foods.
How do you make sure that the food you eat is healthy? Are there any ingredients that you won’t allow in the products you buy?
Olivia Blanco Mullins is a journalist and has been eating healthy most of her life, as her parents have owned health food stores for more than 20 years. Currently she lives in Manhattan, Kansas, where her husband owns an Italian restaurant .
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