The Conventional Grocery Store…of Doom!

My favorite health food store closed a while ago and has forced me to seek my groceries elsewhere. You’d think this wouldn’t be a problem, but unfortunately, it has become quite a dramatic quest.
I subscribe to the “try not to put chemicals and vast quantities of sugar into your body” theories. So before, when I shopped at Wild Oats I could find all kinds of fun and tasty things to try that were mercifully free of dyes, sugars, and multitudes of preservatives. I didn’t mind spending the extra money. It was worth it to me. So I happily shopped there for years until its demise. Now I am forced to go to…(insert ominous scary sound here) The Conventional Grocery Store.

Let us list a few factors to be wary of:

  1. Normal grocery stores all smell like sour milk to me. Gross.
  2. There are usually ill-behaved children at these stores. (not once did I come across one at Wild Oats)
  3. 95% of the food contains chemical preservatives, dyes, vast amounts of sugar in more forms than one can count, is made from dehydrated bits of things or overprocessed into forms you can’t even understand.
  4. The other 5% is produce which a) is almost never organic and the small selection they have is rarely fresh, b) covered in waxes and pesticides.
  5. Products have far too much packaging and are designed to attract the attention of children.
  6. Long lines for checkout.
  7. The shopping carts always seem to have that one wobbly wheel that forces you to wrestle the cart around the store not unlike trying to get a stubborn horse or mule to move.
  8. The checkout ladies always seem to have those scary 2″ talons in the place of normal fingernails, strange unnatural hair colors and usually smell like smoke. The men are less scary, but usually look downtrodden and sullen. Not the way to perk up my day, let me tell you.
  9. Poor attitudes and health. No really, usually the people that shopped at Wild Oats were generally friendly, seemed to be in healthy weight ranges, and went about choosing food in a calm and pleasant manner. At the regular grocery store people are stressed, overweight and hastily throwing cans of overprocessed slop into their carts. Eeeek!
  10. And have I mentioned there is sugar or chemical sweeteners in literally EVERYTHING?! Yeah, just making sure you get the point.

So my only other option is to drive about 25 minutes to Whole Foods, which is a great store, but definitely more crowded and expensive than Wild Oats was. I don’t mind going every once in a while but that is a long way to go when you just need to pick up a few things. Trader Joe’s is generally natural and cheap; I love them for certain items. However they do focus on packaged foods and their produce is usually in bulk and not very tasty. Sprouts is where I go most often these days. However, they have the worst tomatoes of all the options and a lot of packaged foods that contain ingredients I’d rather not eat.

I am looking forward to moving to Austin because, though I wept quietly when I heard they don’t have a Trader Joe’s, farmer’s markets are supposedly abundant there. Hooray for convenient and fresh produce!

Does anyone else feel my pain? What solutions have you found to eat healthy in the absence of convenient health food?

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Gastric Bypass Surgery as a Cure for Diabetes?

I saw this piece on the news this morning essentially promoting gastric bypass surgery as a cure for type II diabetes. The irony about this report is that during the interview with the woman in the piece, she is shown…exercising!….and….eating salads! If you look at her physique in the before and after photos she is clearly more muscular too, so I would assume she is also doing some strength training.

Here’s the thing I don’t get: Perhaps the lifestyle changes associated with gastric bypass surgery ultimately led to the elimination of her diabetes, but it was the lifestyle changes (exercise and diet, including elimination or reduction in unhealthy foods) that cured her, not the surgery itself. I am completely dumbfounded that the International Diabetes Federation is considering recommending a dangerous surgery in lieu of diet changes. Granted, a surgery is easier in the minds of most patients. Essentially a one stop, cure all for what ails you. Why bother with diet and exercise…those are HARD, by golly. In my opinion, this isn’t a good option as a cure for diabetes. There are much safer and less expensive methods, though they may take more time and effort.

Protecting our seeds

Plants are a crucial part of the environment, but in many ways they’re frustratingly delicate. In the event of a major environmental or political crisis, they can’t exactly hop on a plane to get away from the trouble, so we’ve got to take care of them. Governments around the world have started to realize that there could be a potentially devastating loss of biodiversity (not to mention nourishing crops) if certain species of plants fell victim to some sort of extinction event.

This excerpt is from a Mental Floss article regarding the storage of plant seeds in enormous vaults. While the article is interesting, it neglects to mention the main reason we even need to take this precaution. That reason is us. Our destruction of natural land, forcing cultivation and growth of species that were never meant to thrive in certain areas, and one of the most subtle yet destructive processes of creating GMO foods.

If this topic interests you, please watch the documentary The Future of Food. Here is a 10 minute overview on Youtube. The film goes into great detail about how factory farming works, and the control that major corporations like Monsanto have over the way we eat. It also discusses genetically engineered foods and how they are invading native crops and decreasing biodiversity. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the less biodiversity we have, the more potential there is for, say, a particular fungus wiping out an entire variety of corn. If all corn was the same variety (which 70% of it is now) that would be a devastating loss.

I do think that a storage vault of native seeds is a great idea, but it doesn’t excuse mankind from destroying the plants we have now just because we have a backup. Since starting my education in holistic nutrition I am a firm supporter of farming smarter, not bigger.

The complete Future of Food documentary is available on Netflix.