Sunday, March 6, 2016

Leaving My Peas and Q's at Whole Foods

While I am preoccupied with the current campaign brouhaha and it has a small part of me wanting to create a post making fun at all the sexual references. Seriously,  when in my lifetime will a campaign have this many prepubescent references to hand size **wink, wink*.  However, I am trying to remain strong and faithful and try to keep  my blog a "non-political zone".  That becomes increasingly difficult when the candidates keep offering up so much joke fodder and my inner 13 year old boy keeps being misdirected into an arena of bathroom humor. 

SOOO for today, let's talk about the more mundane side of life....specifically grocery shopping.

As with all things that evolve over a lifetime, my enthusiasm (or lack thereof) towards a routine task like shopping for food has settled somewhere above a being hit by a bus but below getting my teeth cleaned.

This wasn't always the case.  Many of my long time readers might remember that my life has been split four ways between living in a big city with my mother, living with my grandparents in the rural South, and later living in a small town with my dad....then most of my adult life has been spent in suburbia with a little city urban in the early years.  What does this have to do with the price of beans you say? (Nothing wrong with a little grocery colloquialism....I'll try to to constrain myself) brings to mind how my attitude toward something as menial as buying food has gone from "YAY  to  "meh" to "OMG, please, NO...must I?"

There is a certain level of nostalgia connected to the days of living in urban Phoenix  as a kid and riding the bus to a city market to buy food. Granted I was really young so I might not grasp the fact that my mother might not have thought this to be as pleasurable experience as I did. 

Later I went to live with grandparents on a farm. Farms are a wondrous things with their beautiful vegetable gardens, and all the "meat on legs" living there.

Honestly, if it wasn't for all the chores associated with those things, I would of thought it was a perfect way to live.   However for the non-farm  produced food,  we cleaned up, put on "our good clothes" and went into town every Saturday morning.  The Piggly Wiggly supplied the can goods,  bulk flour, lard and such that were the key ingredients of the 1960s " good health be damned" diet.

Even in my teen years, living in a small town, I could walk to the market and carry a paper bag of groceries home as needed and none of that seemed to be the worst thing in my life.   It wasn't until I became a grownup that I realized that the act of purchasing food would dwindle down to the equivalent of torture.

I am sure that some of you are currently distancing yourself from having to think about where your dinner ingredients came from because you have managed to allocate this chore to someone else. No matter how you have escaped this chore, surely you recognize that the food on your table had to have been purchased by someone.  Your poor victim...or personal shopper if your prefer... had the duty to roll a cart around some type of market (or if you live in the South "pushing the buggy") to make important choices between what will kill you and what won't.

NOTE: In our household, I do most of the shopping but once in awhile hubby humors me (after I beg, plead, grovel, etc) and participates.  Turns out he doesn't enjoy grocery shopping either unless it's one of the stores that offer up lots of samples.Then it's game on over at the Sam's Club or Costco.

  As I was saying, ....No longer does the shopper have the luxury of just picking up things to keep starvation at bay.  Now you have to make hard choices about what you are willing to eat versus what you are wanting to eat.  AND if that isn't enough, you have to pick out which venue is the least objectionable.

For today's purposes, I am going to confine myself to one type of store for the sake of brevity.  Technically, my version of brevity is everyone else's version of being long-winded...but still I am making an effort by just talking about health food stores for today.  So sit down, open a refreshing bottle of kabucha (swill) and let's talk about why people would subject themselves to this type of shopping experience.

Here in suburbia these super healthy super market chains are popping up everywhere...and they are super busy. So, I climbed on board the "eating clean" train and decided to give these specialty stores a try.  It not entirely lost of me that our food supply has been tampered with a bit (and by bit I mean there's no real food in our food) and perhaps buying products that tout the words,  range-free, gluten free, fat free,  non-GMO,  or organic  might, in fact, be a good thing.   Yes, we can all sleep better at night knowing that the chickens were able to roam at will and the happy cows were probably bathed in Perrier while listening to zen like Muzak before becoming our chicken nuggets and hamburgers. Nary a P in sight. No pesticides, preservatives, or poison to be had.

So...I started buying some products from the health food market to see if there are significant differences that would entice me to fully embrace stores like Whole Foods or Natural Grocers.  As you might imagine, this experiment wasn't without some glitches.   I had at least 3 problems maneuvering the health food stores from the get-go.

1.  I am not a chemist or a botanist
2.  I am not a rich chemist or botanist.
3.  It is appallingly apparent to every other shopper there that I belong down the road at the Walmart.

Within the first five minutes of being in a health food store comes the realization that healthy foods without all the  unhealthy additives cost way more than the ones that contain preservatives, artificial colors, gluten,  hormones and such. So if you want healthy food be prepared for the shake down.

Also, there is a "look" about the shoppers there.  It appears they all have come from the gym.  Not my gym, mind you.  The gym where all the women wear matching Lycra capri leggings with matching tops as opposed to sweat pants and T-shirts that have stains. ( be fair, the stains are why the Tshirt was relegated to becoming gym wear.)

OK after you realize you don't look like the other shoppers, then you are probably going to realize you aren't smart enough to be in there anyway. The labeling not only tells you what's in the product but often tells you what isn't in the product.

For example: I am pretty sure that too much salt (sodium chloride) isn't a good thing but how many  nitrates (yep..still talking a type of salt)  am I able to consume before it kills me?  Is sodium citrate ( yah, did you happen to notice the sodium part of that) a good thing or a bad thing?  Is sugar alcohol safe and do I care if it's safe if it takes away the calories that potentially make my thighs fat? Clearly these were questions I should of asked in chemistry class instead of setting my hair on fire.

Even owning up to my extreme lack of chemistry recall,  my insufficient botany knowledge leaves me ill prepared for the pretty cases of produce.

I eat lettuce....that would be ordinary types of lettuce like iceberg or Romain.  I don't know or care enough to know the difference between radicchio and endive.  I am fine with buying a bag that is labeled Spring Mix.  I have no idea what a "spring mix" is exactly but it's green and makes a nice salad.

On one of my maiden voyages into "clean" shopping, I made the rookie mistake of  looking around for a cheap bag of mixed greens. We have already established that if  you are at all concerned about the price of things, this isn't where you need to shop.  Now that I have matured and have become more self-aware, it becomes clear that I am willing to risk listeria by buying a bag of lettuce over at Sam's Club that cost around $3.00 but would fill a bucket. Conversely, the lovely greens at the HFM (let's just start using that acronym to save time ...HFM instead of health food market) cost more pound  per pound than my car does.

Call me crazy (and I know you do)  but given the choice between living healthy or dying broke, I think I might have to make different types of  choices.  One of those choices,  involve me peeling my own oranges.

Half way through the store, I also am questioning myself as to what exactly is HEALTHY???  If you walk down the snack aisle there are still chips, cheese puffs and cookies.  They tell you on the package that they are gluten free (which concerns me ZERO), sugar free, and fat free.

OK...Let's just put it out there...if something is going to be called a cookie, it would have to have something tasty in there to make it taste sweet and yummy.  If it's a real sugar like honey, isn't it still sugary calories?  On some labels I see that artificial sweeteners are listed.  Even as health-food stupid as I am, artificial sweeteners are a bad thing.  I once, mentioned this to an employee at Whole Foods and she actually scolded me. She told me that they wouldn't sell anything containing artificial sweeteners. Far be it from me to drag her over to the cookie aisle to point out the fact she is wrong.... but judging from her vehement denial, I didn't want to incite a riot over at the  Whole Foods.   I am, however,  considering bringing in a Diet Coke to sip during my next visit just to taunt her but we all know that artificial sweeteners are really bad.

Perhaps, next time, I will tell you what bothers me over at the Walmart. Brevity might not be an option.

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