Healthy Environment · Local to Rockford · Tips for Healthy Eating

A Trip to the Grocery Store

 

I never used to give much thought to my weekly (or bimonthly) trips to the grocery store. I would make a list, try to find as much as I could on sale (or pick out the cheapest products, which usually meant the 89 cent pack of hot dogs or the chips for $0.99). When my bill rang up under $100, I felt good, because I was saving my family money (now, if I’m under $200, I call it a good week but wonder what I forgot).

Even when I started to buy “health” foods, I wasn’t really obsessed with what was wrong with everything else in the store. I would still look longingly at the candy aisle, or crave salty pretzels, or pull my hand back from the bag of frosted animal crackers that Woodman’s ALWAYS sticks on the end of aisle four (THANK YOU WOODMANS FOR TRYING TO BREAK MY DIET ON A WEEKLY BASIS!!)

It was only recently, as my body has begun to feel healthier and healthier and my mind clearer, that I’ve started to actually feel repulsed by some of the junk that is being sold as food. And suddenly, my mind has been opened to the shallow marketing campaigns that are targeting us: the consumers.

The first time that a sign really struck me was a few weeks ago. I was walking by the drink section which happens to be at the end of the natural and organic aisles when I noticed this ad:

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Hmm … Coca Cola Life? I thought. Sweetened with cane sugar and stevia, it advertised. It amazed me what lengths a company would go to (especially one in the news right now for how much money they are investing in fighting GMO labelling … nearly $6,000,000). As Coca Cola is anything but healthy, I found it interesting that they were attempting to appeal to those who may be considering giving up their weakness for soda. What message were they sending? Look, you can be healthy and have your Coke too! (Um, no, but it’s a great thought).

I think I laughed out loud … and I brought out my phone to snap a picture. (Plus, I also had to take a pic of all those “healthy” ingredients besides the wonderful cane sugar and stevia.) And just a hint: drinking Coca Cola Life will not bring you good health. It just makes you think that you will.

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I had no intention at that point of continuing this picture snapping craziness, but then just an aisle or so down, the next advertisement jumped out at me:

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This one I honestly did laugh at. Seriously?!?! Yeah, you’ll need your “anti-ahhhxidants” after you drink that tea down, seeing that it’s full of toxic artificial sweeteners (although the “regular” one isn’t any better, seeing that the second ingredient after water is “high fructose corn syrup” 😛 )

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(Diet on the left, regular Lipton tea on the right)

 

At this point, the craziness of the advertising world hit me. They can say whatever they want, purposely misleading people into thinking that their product is actually healthy for you, but the “natural world” is being shut up right and left. There is so little that people can say regarding the truth anymore; and yet, big companies can preach lies and insinuate half-truths as loudly as they want.

 

And this was just the beginning of my discoveries at my local grocery store.

 

The Dairy Section

Do you ever find yourself sending subliminal messages to someone that are SO LOUD that you worry they might actually hear you?

I never used to have this problem. I was someone who liked to mind my own business and I liked that other people allowed me to mind mine and tend to theirs, and we all went along our own way without causing trouble, especially when it came to the task of speed shopping, which is also known as “getting groceries”.

However, I find myself getting nosier and nosier as the weeks go by. For example, the other day I saw a woman in the produce section right in front of the organic eggs I was going to pick up (I usually get fresh eggs from my mom, but I was a few dozen short that week). I was patiently waiting, until I realized that she was actually reaching for the egg beaters that were next to the organic eggs. And that’s when my mind started screaming, “Noooooooooooooo!” (I swear she may have turned to look at me).

As she chose which “flavor” of egg beaters she preferred and then went on her way, I scooted up to get my eggs, but couldn’t help but snap a picture of the ingredients in the box of egg beaters (Yes, at the bottom of the box it does say: “Contains: Eggs”. Yes, but barely, says my sarcastic subconscious).

 

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In our society that is obsessed with the vilification of fat and cholesterol, egg beaters seem to be the healthy alternative, as the yolk has been removed. What they do not realize is that by removing the yolk, they have removed one of the most nutritious portions of the egg (Check out this article here for a comparison of the white vs. the yolk: http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/Egg_Yolk.html) Eggs have been compared to human breast milk for the nutritional value that they contain. They are a wonderful thing to eat, but only if we eat them as God intended: from chickens who are allowed to roam in the fresh air and eat a balanced (and non-GMO!) diet. Sorry, but egg beaters cannot provide this. They are not a “health” food. And supplementing all those vitamins and minerals that you notice in the ingredient column does not make them any healthier. Our body is made to process and absorb nutrients from our food … when we fortify foods with synthetic vitamins and minerals, our body doesn’t know what to do with them, so put simply, it goes in and it goes out. A “syndrome of expensive urine”.

 

Just down the way from the eggs is the processed meat and cheese section, with several other products included in the refrigerated section. I walked past the Lunchable section and just had to stop, knowing full well what I would find when I looked at those ingredients.

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America is feeding their children garbage; we all know the saying “you are what you eat”, yet somehow we’ve deceived ourselves that this only applies to other people and doesn’t apply to the small but growing bodies that need more nourishment than any of us. People look at my “poor” boys because they are unable to eat Lunchables and we have been told that we’re “missing out”. Yep, that’s right, they are missing out … on cancer, type II diabetes, and heart disease. Poor dears.

 

 

The Baby Aisle … Wow.

The next week that I went shopping I wasn’t intentionally planning to go searching for menacing food and take pictures. I was just getting what I needed to get and getting out. However, the bulk toilet paper that I buy can only be reached by walking through the baby aisle. And just like those advertisements earlier had done, things started jumping off the shelf at me.

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Um, what?? FLUORIDE in your infant’s water, as a good thing??? I had never heard of such a thing. Perhaps they are unaware that infants are much smaller versions of people, with impaired ability to excrete fluoride, so they are much more likely to have damage from fluoride not only to their developing teeth (known as dental fluorosis) but also damage to their developing brains, as fluoride is a potent neurotoxin. (More details can be found in the following article: Fluoride – Infant Exposure)

 

So, although I wasn’t planning to go searching some more, the fluoridated infant water really blew me away, so I continued. Here’s PediaSure:

 

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This is what parents give their children who are such picky eaters that they are afraid they won’t get nutrition any other way. They give this to their children and then feel good about the “nutrition” that they are getting. But what is the truth? Let’s look at some of those ingredients:

First, the second ingredient in PediaSure is sugar. The one thing that our kids today definitely do NOT need more of is refined sugar. While you are giving your child PediaSure because you fear they have a nutritional deficiency, processed sugar actually causes nutritional deficiencies as any mineral content has been stripped of it, and for our body to process sugar, it requires several different minerals and vitamins. For example, for every molecule of sugar you consume, it requires 54 molecules of magnesium to process it! It is no wonder that many in our society today are magnesium deficient.

Fourth ingredient: soy oil. Soy, while it has been touted for a while now as a “healthy” alternative, is not healthy in this country. Besides the fact that soy contains estrogens that can effect normal development in our children, most of the soy grown in the United States is genetically modified. No testing has been done to determine the safety of genetically modified (GMO) produce on the human body. However, when they did testing on swine who were fed GMO corn, they found high levels of inflammation and other changes: basically, their stomachs were turned to mush. Insects who dare to try to eat GMO produce find that their stomachs explode and they die. I don’t know about you, but this is not something that I exactly want to have happen to me …

Looking down the ingredient list: soy protein isolate. Avoid for the same reasons mentioned above for soy. An added danger of soy protein isolate is the way that it’s processed; it retains some heavy metals like aluminum and other chemicals picked up during the process.

Natural and artificial flavors: this can mean anything. “Natural” simply means that it came from something natural, or not synthetically created. Did you know that McDonald’s flavors their apple pies with “vanillin”, which is derived from a goo obtained from glands near a beaver’s butt. Yummy! However, since it’s “natural”, it can be listed as “natural flavoring”, and everyone says, “Wow! So healthy!” Artificial flavor means it was synthetically created and should be avoided.

Another ingredient listed in this product is carrageenan, which can also be found in several products listed as organic. Carrageenan is derived from seaweed, which sounds good and natural, right? However, here’s what carrageenan can do to you:

“Although derived from a natural source, carrageenan appears to be particularly destructive to the digestive system, triggering an immune response similar to that your body has when invaded by pathogens like Salmonella.

The result: “Carrageenan predictably causes inflammation, which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding,” explains veteran carrageenan researcher Joanne Tobacman, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago. She says the food ingredient irritates by activating an immune response that dials up inflammation. Her previous work showed a concerning connection between carrageenan and gastrointestinal cancer in lab animals, and she’s involved with ongoing research funded through the National Institutes of Health that is investigating carrageenan’s effect on ulcerative colitis and other diseases like diabetes.

The concern over food-grade carrageenan isn’t new. Beginning in the 1960s, researchers started linking the ingredient to gastrointestinal disease in lab animals, including ulcerative colitis, intestinal lesions, and colon cancer.” – Prevention.com

 

Moving on down the list of ingredients we come to sucralose. So, if having sugar as the second ingredient wasn’t enough, let’s add more! Sucralose is an artificial sweetener also known as Splenda, and studies have shown many health impacts of artificial sweeteners, including cancer, neurotoxicity and toxic impact on the body in general. One study on sucralose showed an increase in glycosylated hemoglobin (damage to the oxygen-carrying part of a red blood cell). Animal studies have shown up to a 40 percent shrinkage of the thymus gland, enlarged liver and kidneys, and reduced growth rate.

And, it’s hard to see it among all the other ingredients, but yes! There it is. They managed to sneak some FD&C Red #3 into this product. Can’t make something tasty for kids these days without adding a little artificial coloring!

I’ve discussed artificial colors at length in past articles. Basically, the only reason they are there is to make the final product look pretty. When you process something to death and it’s synthetically created, the end result usually isn’t as pretty as something that you’d find in nature. And we’re designed to appreciate and desire beautiful looking food; it enhances our appetite for it and prepares our digestive system to eat it. So, the food industry will often add these artificial colors to products to appeal to consumers. However, artificial colors have been linked to everything from cancer to hyperactivity in children, and many artificial colors that we use here in the USA have been banned in several other countries. (Here’s a link to one of my favorite articles on the subject: Colors to Die For)

And lastly, as I mentioned above, our body was not designed to recognize synthetic vitamins. So, while giving your child PediaSure may feel good, it really is not doing them the good that it seems it should be.

 

Next to the PediaSure is the Pedialyte.

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This is what parents are encouraged to give their children when they are sick and to prevent dehydration. However, this is the last thing that I would give my kid when their body is already stressed and down. When you look at the ingredient list, you find a couple of red flags:

Citric acid – Citric acid is found naturally in citrus fruits, so often, we don’t worry too much about this ingredient. However, in processed products like the ones you buy at a grocery store, it’s much easier and cheaper to obtain citric acid from the black mold that grows on GMO corn. So, unless you call the company and verify otherwise, assume that the citric acid in your product was obtained this way.

Natural flavor – remember the beaver butt goo? Who knows what this is?! When in doubt, you could always call the company and ask them what is used as “natural flavoring”.

Sucralose – see above. Is this something that you really want your child consuming when they are already sick?

Acesulfame potassium – I almost didn’t research this ingredient because I assumed it was a potassium electrolyte replacement in the drink. Far from it! This is another artificial sweetener, and it was on several lists I found of the most dangerous artificial sweeteners. According to medicinenet.com, “Acesulfame K contains the carcinogen methylene chloride. Long-term exposure to methylene chloride can cause headaches, depression, nausea, mental confusion, liver effects, kidney effects, visual disturbances, and cancer in humans.” Again, not what I would want my child to ingest when his body defenses are down.

And there’s my favorite ingredients again: the lovely artificial colors Red 40 and Blue 1. Please see the article above regarding synthetic dyes and please, please, please, if there is one dietary change that you can make for your kids, avoid artificial colors if at all possible. An apple or a strawberry is a beautiful red color too, and it’s a much healthier choice for a growing body.

But what can you do if your child is dehydrated and you want to give them something like Pedialyte? Here’s the recipe that I use for children over 12 months of age:

Electrolyte Drink

1 quart boiled water

2 Tbs. raw honey

¼ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. baking soda

This is good in the fridge for 24 hours.

Also, for sick children, warm chicken stock or bone broth is very nourishing and healing. The upside? No artificial, toxic ingredients!

 

So, after visiting the baby aisle, am I done? Oh, no!

 

Now I’m boiling and wondering where our society is headed. ALL of these products that I snapped pictures of are promoted as healthy (all of the above except for the Lunchables … which are advertised as perfect for portion control and specifically marketed for children). ALL of them. I did not even wander into the world of food that society as a whole calls “junk food” and snap pictures of them. This is the so-called healthy stuff, guys!

Want to know what else I found? Look at this in the meat section!

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Now they’ve defiled sauerkraut too! REAL sauerkraut is alive and doesn’t need “sodium benzoate” (which is a highly toxic preservative that it under scrutiny in several countries at the moment, with plans underway to ban it) to preserve it! Meaning that this kraut (which comes in convenient serving sized portions, by the way) is DEAD. So why would you eat it when you can have something that’s alive and actually good for you!?!?

Yep, getting worked up by this point. No wonder our society is sick! No wonder this is the first generation that will NOT cause the life expectancy to increase … did you know that the life expectancy of your children is actually less than yours? (See article here) No wonder the medical profession is a multi-billion dollar industry! LOOK AT WHAT WE EAT!!!!!

And then I walked by the reading section on my way to getting some more computer paper. And something else jumped out at me.

 

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FOOD BABE! In the midst of the unhealthy muck that surrounded me, the cover glowed through the darkness. I picked it up, turned to the introduction, and this is what I read:

“I wanted to lunge across the table, grab them by their shoulders, and cram their own toxin-laced product down their throats. But I hung on to my cool. I had to be strong. I was there to convince one of the biggest food companies in the world to change their ingredients.”

Oooh, did that mirror my mood at the moment! And so, Food Babe got tossed into my cart 😉

And one more highlight of my shopping trip that made me sing a little, despite the absurdity of it. I was looking at two different shelves of grassfed beef. They were both the same brand, appeared to be exactly the same, but the prices were completely different. Were they stocked wrong? I wondered. Then I saw it. The one package of meat was 80 lean/20 fat and the other one was 85 lean/15 fat.

 

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Saving $1.60/lb. and getting more fat? Yes, please!

 

And with that, I smiled and realized that eating healthy has SO many perks. 😉

 

 

~ Alicia

5 thoughts on “A Trip to the Grocery Store

  1. This rant had me laughing! The struggle is real…at least grocery shopping is faster when you bypass all the crap. I shudder when I take a shortcut through the middle aisles of our local grocery–and our local co-op isn’t guilt-free, either, especially the pre-packaged and baby aisles–sometimes I shake my head at what’s being peddled as “healthy.” I’m ready for the farmer’s market to start in a few weeks.

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    1. You are so right. I was even thinking about doing a similar type of post, but this time from Whole Foods 😉 Unfortunately, when we visit health food stores, we expect that everything contained there is perfect, but it’s not.
      Yesterday, I was thinking the exact same thing as you … how ready I am for farmer’s market season!

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      1. I think a post from Whole Foods would be great. So much of what’s called healthy, vegan, whatever, isn’t good fuel for your system–especially the “mock” treats that are supposed to somehow take the place of whatever forbidden food you’re trying to avoid. Some of the unhealthiest people I know are vegetarian and shop exclusively at the Merc.

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    1. So true, Risa! I look other shopper’s carts when I’m in the checkout, and it’s amazing what people eat! One cart I saw was full of diet soda, sugary breakfast cereal and junk food. I’m assuming they also eat out often to make up for what was missing in their cart :/

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