Monday, May 29, 2006

Seven Grocery Shopping Tips

Marion Nestle, author of "Food Politics" is back with a new book, "What to Eat: An Aisle-by-Aisle Guide to Savvy Food Choices and Good Eating." For a sneak peak, you can check out a recent LA Times feature where Nestle accompanies a staff writer to the grocery store.

The basic premise is that Americans are victims of a massive conspiracy that confuses their decisions when it comes to making healthy food choices. According to the LA Times, "[Nestle] blames the powerful food industry's brilliant marketing, federal agencies interested in supporting that industry, and supermarkets," for the confusion.

At the supermarket level, Nestle explains that you might as well be walking into a casino. Everything from the positioning of essential food items to the music is designed to make you spend, spend, spend.

One example is the positioning of milk and other basics like produce and bread. In most grocery stores, these healthful items are at the fringes of the supermarket while unhealthful things like candy and soda clutter the center of the store, read the LA Times piece. As far as the music, it's usually "slow background music… designed to make you linger."

While you're lingering, consider these seven tips from Nestle:

  1. Yogurt's not a health food. "The amount of sugar in these things is staggering," says Nestle. "I call these desserts," she told the LA Times.
  2. When it comes to buying fish, "try to buy wild, not farm-raised."
  3. For produce, buy local, rather than organic, "because the longer it takes to move a food to where you buy it, the less 'fresh' it is.
  4. Looking for a healthy loaf of bread? "Find loaves stating they're 100 percent whole wheat, listing whole wheat flour as the first ingredient, and with at least 2 grams of fiber per ounce."
  5. On the cereal isle, look to the top shelves. "Companies often pay to get their wares placed at eye level, and those that can afford that are usually large companies selling cereals with added sugar in attractive boxes."
  6. If you like orange juice, the pulpier, the healthier, "because nutrients stick to the fiber in the pulp."
  7. And when it comes to eggs, "you don't need to pay a premium for brown eggs. Nutritionally, they are no different than white eggs."

Happy shopping.


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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.