I bet we could look through your fridge and pantry and classify everything as unhealthy.
Cookies, candy, ice cream? Of course. Crackers, potato chips, and pretzels? Duh. Ground beef, mayonnaise, and butter? Oh yeah. Apples, broccoli, and almonds? Definitely.
Wait, what? Since when are apples, broccoli, and almonds bad for you?
Well, if they are covered in pesticides, additives, or preservatives to extend their shelf life, they could be doing you more harm than good.
It is disappointing that we can not simply go to the grocery store and pick out whichever fruit and vegetable we like. We need more education to choose foods without chemicals that can hurt our bodies and minds. We need to learn new vocabulary, recognize new official labels, and figure out where the food was grown before making a purchase.
What is a shopper to do?
Well, the most important thing you can do to keep a level head is never strive for perfection. It is unrealistic. You are not going to find foods that satisfy all your constraints.
For example, your produce might be organic, but it costs twice as much as non-organic and was shipped from a farm 1200 miles away from your home. Or perhaps you are bicycling to the farmer’s market down the road to buy locally grown tomatoes, but they are not certified organic and are picked by workers who are not treated well.
Finding the perfect option that satisfies all your purchasing constraints is unrealistic and can drive you crazy.
Instead, clearly determine what your priorities are.
Are you more interested in buying organic regardless of cost and distance traveled? Are you more interested in buying food grown in your state? Maybe you prefer to support local markets and smaller grocery stores. Maybe you care more about supporting certain businesses because their mission aligns with your personal philosophy. Maybe you do not care where the food came from as long as it is cheap and contains optimal nutritional content to satisfy your health goals.
If you are like me, your priorities may change every time you step inside a store. I know what is important to me, but I weigh my options on each shopping trip.
Sometimes I go for cheap, sometimes for all-organic, sometimes it is unprocessed foods, and sometimes it is about discovering a new company that makes an interesting looking item. My shopping trips vary, but overall, I stay true to my personal philosophies on food and consumer decision-making.
I definitely do not stress out about the shopping trips nor do I care about other people’s judgements. Some may look in my cart and see some “bad foods” from time to time and exclaim, “You’re a hypocrite! You’re not practicing what you preach!”
The reality is that I weigh my options based on my desire for food, the company that makes it, the place of origin, the nutrition content, price, etc., and make the decision that is optimal for me.
The bottom line is: Figure out what your priorities are and stick to them regardless of what other people may say or think. You are feeding your body, spending your money, and making your own decisions. Do not strive for perfection, but optimization based on your priorities. Continue to educate yourself so that you can make informed decisions. Learn from your experiences and share your knowledge by being a positive example to others around you.
Most of all, enjoy your food!