Do you eat real food? This has become a very tricky question. We live in a world where many people are unaware that they don’t eat real food. Food journalist Michael Pollen classifies this “fake” food as “edible food like substances” — no longer the products of nature but of food science. These fake foods are acting as impostors and are standing in for real food – but they’re not the real deal! Kids growing up in this dysfunctional food environment, mistaking coco puffs as real food, will be subjugated to eating a footless diet for the rest of their lives, a fate worse than I can imagine! If these children don’t receive the proper education to help them navigate this unfortunate synthetic food environment then the current trends of childhood obesity will continue to rise and 1 in 3 children will be diagnosed with diabetes by the age of 5 years old.
There is hope. Real food still exists. It makes up a very small percentage of what’s out there, but with a little guidance, you will be well equipped to choose what is rightfully yours, and what nature has to offer you – the gift of real food.
I know this may seem drastic to most, but I very rarely step foot in a big box grocery store. I try to either grow my own food, get my food from a local source, shop at the farmers market, or order bulk produce and superfoods from a reputable source online.
I understand that this is not possible for everyone. Most people lead very busy lives, and don’t live in climates where there are farmers markets running all year around and feel they have no choice but to shop at the grocery store. Before I make a few suggestions on how to navigate that very tricky environment, I do want to make an alternative suggestion first. There are lots of little raw food companies popping up that provide people ready-made meal options to cater to the busy lifestyle. There are also online companies that sell super-foods like spirulina, bee pollen, goji and golden berries, sea weeds, and all sorts of raw organic nuts and seeds for very reasonable prices. I encourage you to do a local search for these services. Community supported agriculture (CSA) programs are also a great way to get real food delivered to your house every week. More and more people are offering services to help people stay connected to their food source and to real food.
Top 6 Real Food Shopping Guidelines
If you do go grocery shop in conventional grocery stores – fear not! You can learn how to navigate them with grace and ease. Firstly, remind yourself of this motto “Eat as close to nature as possible”. Try not to go to a grocery store while your extremely hungry and try to have a general sense before you go of what you need to get. There seems to be a huge amount of choices in the grocery stores, but when you follow these guidelines you will be guided back to the health and safety of real food.
1. Shop the periphery of the store.
This is a really good place to start. Avoid middle isles as much as possible. The middle isles are the most likely place for those “food-like products” to be hanging out. They were designed for long shelf life without refrigeration. Remember these are guidelines not hard steadfast rules.
2. Opt for whole foods over packages foods
Real, whole foods don’t need packaging. Try to avoid buying food products that come in a package, or at least take small steps to move in that direction. Buying whole foods and making meals from scratch where you can control the quality of ingredients will be a major step in the right direction. This may seem drastic to you at first, but when you start to eat closer to nature, the need for packaged items naturally becomes less frequent. When you eat from a package it also means that someone else has done some level of processing to the food, and has made it one more step removed from nature. At this point, I invite you to simply start to notice what you are buying in terms of packaged goods.
3. Read the labels
I understand that not everyone can instantly ditch all packaging. This might take some transitioning towards. When you do buy packaged foods, get into the habit of reading the label and follow these simple guidelines:
- Avoid products that have a long list of ingredients (generally more than 5)
- Avoid products that have ingredients that you can’t pronounce and don’t recognize.
- Avoid all products with corn and sugar (and all of their myriad forms and hidden names)
- Avoid products that contain cheap oils like soybean, canola or vegetable oils.
- Avoid foods high in sodium. Make sure it has less than 30 mg of sodium per serving.
4. Stick mostly to the produce section – spend most of your time here.
People tend to repeatedly buy the same things, so try something new and buy a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Try to eat the colors of the rainbow, and intuitively pick the colors that are currently singing to you. Select organic produce if they stock it. If your grocery store doesn’t carry any organic produce then you might want to find out where your local health food store is and see what organic produce they sell there.
5. Buy raw organic nuts and seeds
Try to opt for organic and raw nuts and seeds. Most “bulk bin” nuts and seeds are roasted and heavily salted (did you know salt can be a major influence on how much you weigh?). Roasted nuts and seeds are detrimental to your health as they are now known to be carcinogenic and have higher levels of saturated fats.
6. Go for quality over quantity
We all know that quality foods are more expensive, but don’t you think you’re worth it? Buy organic over non-organic and, if you do consume dairy or meat products try to find the best source possible. It’s worth paying for a local, organic grass fed source. Try opting for vegan alternatives to meat and dairy. You can make your own almond milk in less than 5 minutes.
This will set anybody off to a good start. In any times of question or confusion, simply stop and ask yourself, “Can I find this food in nature?” and follow the motto “Eat as close to nature as possible”
It is my heartfelt wish that people discover the magic and miracle of real food!
Have a wonderful day, keep shinning bright.