I’m not an absolute Nazi about my diet, but I watch it pretty closely. In the years after I graduated from Elon, after a summer away teaching fitness classes at a weight loss camp, I was educated on calories, portion control, and the necessity of exercise each day, and managed to lose the thirty-fiveish pounds that had crept up while I made my way through college.
Through the last part of graduate school, as I continued losing weight, I did the best I could with portion control and food, and ate a lot of processed crap like Lean Cuisine, more for the portion control. I was more concerned with calories overall, and not necessarily what was in the food. And I lost the remaining weight, as you will when you’re focused on that number. But once I got down to a good weight, and felt comfortable stepping out of that premeasured box that was Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice, I started dipping my toes into the Whole Foods pond, and discovering how much better I felt, and how much better my body looked when I was eating salads, fruits, and coffees that were locally grown, and not at all prepackaged – the closet thing that I could get to eating foods from the ground without pulling it out myself.
Our last apartment before we bought the house was almost painfully close to the Whole Foods. Austin would groan when he saw that brown paper Whole Foods bag because he knew that meant that I had spent somewhere between $10-a billion dollars. Now, even though the Whole Foods is not really more than like 15 minutes away, it’s not as convenient, and I’ve found myself shopping more and more at the Food Lion because I can literally walk to it without breaking a sweat. And what I’ve seen has been a little troubling.
The nice thing about those more expensive places, is that if you can afford them, they offer you some great selection, as well as the fact that a lot of these stores are expanding into more local and organic options.
But with the Food Lion back across the street from me, I’ve noticed a few things.
- The produce section is not as robust as it is other places. I’ve had to hunt for certain fruits and veggies, and on more than one occasion, have not been able to find what I’m looking for at all. Additionally, when you do find what you’re looking for, a lot of times the fruit has been harvested early so that it will make the long journey fresh, and is rock hard, almost unedible, or the opposite. Mushy from the nitrogen that they pump into the room to make sure the fruit is attractive and ripened.
- But the freezer section is bangin’. For the first time in years, I’ve eaten a few Lean Cuisines. They literally have an unending selection of this stuff, however, the sodium is off the charts. And ‘tis no bueno.
- Lettuce at the Lion and lettuce elsewhere is not always created equal. In my experience, I’ve purchased lettuce, that once I’ve gotten home, is slimy, so I have to pull out the slime, and use the edible parts.
- I’ve unwittingly purchased spoiled dairy there as well, which is a pretty nasty surprise when you’re all excited about the little dollop of milk you put in your tea.
Now thankfully, I can afford, once in a while, to make the trip to a Whole Foods or a to a Harris Teeter to pick up some of those items that can’t be found in Food Lion, such a sundried tomatoes, fresh pasta, and fresh lettuce, and fermented teas that I’ve developed a love for. But for those who can’t afford to make a trip across town, or for those who straight up don’t have access – have never set foot in a Trader Joes, for example, what is the best way for those folks, to make sure they’re getting a full, well-rounded, healthy diet, high in nutrients, but lower in sodium?
Just food for thought…