What You Need to Know Before Entering a Grocery Store

According to the great Michael Pollan we should only eat foods that eventually rot. To elaborate – food processing began as a way to extend the shelf life of food by protecting it from fungi, bacteria, insects and rodents. The more processed a food is, the longer the shelf life, and the less nutritious it becomes. Real food is alive and will eventually die! So, how can you bring this new knowledge into the grocery store? Try shopping the peripheries of the supermarket.

Most of the immortal foodlike substances in the supermarket are found in the middle aisles, while the fresh food, such as produce, meat, fish and dairy typically line the walls. Shopping JUST the peripheries is easier said than done - I know. So, when you are browsing the middle aisles for cereal, crackers etc be aware of the following techniques used by the grocery stores to encourage consumers to make certain purchases. For instance, the eye-catching end of the aisle displays, which are designed to draw the consumer down an aisle. Or the eye level product placements where the higher profile brands are located while the no-name products are often on the lower and upper shelves. These are two examples of subliminal marketing techniques, which drive me crazy!

Just to reiterate – we do need to browse the middle aisles but when we do just remember that the more processed the food is the less nutritious it is. And the less processed foods are found in the peripheries of the supermarket.

Here are some healthy shopping tips:

  • Plan your menu around Canada’s Food Guide and using the promotional flyer from the store.
  • Make a shopping list in order of the grocery store layout and stick to the list when shopping.
  • Eat before you shop.
  • Buy locally.
  • And lastly, shop the perimeter.

As a side note – I also think it’s great to get out of the supermarket whenever you can. At markets, such as farmer’s markets or quays, you won’t find any elaborately processed food products with unpronounceable ingredients. What you will find is fresh, easily recognizable food that will rot. For more information on farmer’s markets check out this site: www.eatlocal.org

Image courtesy of I-5 Design & Manufacture