The Science and Art of Grocery Shopping

November 25, 2022

Stick to the Outside of the Store

When grocery shopping, you want to stick to the periphery (outside four walls) of the store.  All of the nutritious foods are located around the walls.  All of the bad stuff is located on the inside.

perimeter first

The Majority of Your Shopping Should Be In the Produce Section

Of all of the food you buy, the majority should come from the produce section.  Because your meals are going to be based on “real food”, you need to buy fresh vegetables and fruits.  If you end up with a cart full of products and only a few items came from the produce section, you had a bad strategy (or no strategy) going to the store.

Fresh, Frozen, or Canned?

fresh frozen or canned

When it comes to buying food, you will be confronted with the question of whether to buy fresh, frozen, or canned.    As a rule of thumb, the best quality will be fresh vegetables and fruits.  The second best will be frozen (flash frozen).  And the least quality will come from canned products.  The reason why I feel canned foods is in last place is that the manufacturers almost always add chemicals or preservatives to the foods in order for them to have a very long shelf life.

You are going to need to weigh whether you want the freshest ingredients or something that has a long shelf life (because you can’t have both).  Ultimately these foods are going into your body.  That means not only is the foods going into your body, but all of the additional chemicals that the foods were treated with also are going to be ingested.  Why expose yourself to these chemicals if you don’t have to?

Different cultures have various opinions on these issues.  For example, Americans tend to go grocery shopping once a week.  They buy what they feel they will need and do one big shopping.  On the other hand, the French will walk to a market and buy fresh ingredients for the meal that evening.  Subsequently, the French (and other Europeans) tend to champion fresh food and are less tolerant of convenience foods.

Organic or Non-Organic?

Organic means that the foods have not been sprayed with insecticides or pesticides.  Industrial farmers spray their crops with chemicals in order to stop weed growth or bugs from eating their crops.  They do this because they will have a higher yield.  That means more money will go into their pockets.  They do not do this because it is necessarily better for you and your health.

What is organic food

When the foods that have been sprayed with these toxic chemicals is eaten, we also ingest the toxic chemicals that were sprayed onto the foods.  Even if you do a thorough job at washing the foods when you get home, it still has residual chemicals on it (which will then go into your body, and contribute to your toxic load).

Think buying organic is too expensive?  Try pricing cancer treatments.

Eat A Pound of Fresh Vegetables Per Day With Five Colors

You want to eat a minimum of a pound of vegetables each day with five colors.  Does a pound of veggies seem like a lot?  For purposes of comparison, a side salad at a fast food restaurant (like Wendy’s) is about half a pound.  One pound, when consumed over the course of 24 hours really isn’t a lot.

Why all the colors?  Fresh vegetables and fruits contain pigments that cause their characteristic colors.  These pigments contain substances that are called phytonutrients.  These are extraordinarily good for you.

Read the Labels

  • Does it contain anything you can’t recognize without a Ph.D. in biochemistry? Don’t buy it.
  • Does it contain more than five ingredients? Don’t buy it.
  • Are there hidden sugars in it (corn sweetener, ethyl maltol, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, inverted sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar syrup, Florida crystals, cane sugar, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup solids, malt syrup, barley malt, agave nectar, rice syrup, caramel, panocha, muscovado, molasses, treacle, carob syrup)? Don’t buy it.
  • Are there artificial flavors or flavor enhancers in it? Don’t buy it.
  • Are there any artificial colors? Don’t buy it.
  • Are there any trans fats? Don’t buy it.