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…
7 thoughts on “Food Lion Observation”
One thing I’ve found here in South Jersey is we have a few local places that deal with just produce and vegetables and even a lot of the local farms have good prices on “really” fresh fruits and vegetables (the only thing with them is you have a smaller selection of what is only in season regionally). Between the two, can get just about everything I need in regards to that.
Frozen veggies are a good option. I hate when I have a bag of mixed greens for salad and some of them start to slime while some of the leaves are fresh. I usually keep frozen spinach and frozen mixed vegs in my freezer to boost the nutrients value in anything I’m cooking.
I love frozen veggies, especially compared to canned! Good alternative!
In my town, we have two primary options for groceries and frequently the fruits/vegetables do not look great in either store. Oh how I wish we could get a Trader Joe’s! I found out about and joined a Food Buying club and the Farmer’s Market also provides some additional options. I wonder what could be done to influence this in a positive way.
What are the options? Just curious!
I am definitely not a fan of Food Lion and avoid it at all costs. I love Whole Foods but the closest one is in downtown Durham (I’m by Southpoint mall) so it’s a decent drive there so I don’t shop there often. I joke that my husband purposely moved me to an area without Whole Foods so I couldn’t spend all the money there! haha. I do as much shopping as I can at the South Durham Farmers market. It’s a great way to guarantee you get fresh, local, and reasonably priced food! The meat is often times more expensive but the trade off of eating a healthy animal that was raised humanely is worth it to me. For cost conscious people, they could eat less meat or no meat while being able to afford plenty of local organic veggies. I then shop at Harris Teeter the following day to fill in any gaps for the menu I have planned/buy food not at the farmers market (hello ice cream!). Grocery stores have a lot of great organic frozen fruit/veggie options now to choose from.
You sound like you have a really good system worked out for your food!
So, I was spending a LOT at Whole Foods, and I had to put myself (well, my husband had to help me) spend less, because I could shop there for days and days and not care about saving in the name of food. But you really have to be on it to eat well!