My local grocery store only has 1 aisle labeled as a "Natural Food" aisle. What does that say about the other 17 aisles? Unnatural? You guessed it. In order to be labeled “natural,” products cannot contain artificial ingredients or added colors. They must also be minimally processed. I find it disturbing that the other aisles are filled with products that contain fillers, artificial things, preservatives and who knows what else. I have also found out that even animal products that are raised with artificial hormones can still be labeled natural.
In the last 2 ½ years, I've been much more aware about reading labels and trying to monitor what I'm consuming. I cut out the basics – no processed foods, nothing fried, no trans fats, no hydrogenated oils, no meats that contain hormones. But how far does one go with all this stuff? How much time does a working woman in this country have to spend on reading every single label, plus work out at the gym, plus make hummus from scratch every week? Well, the answer is it takes a lifetime. I have found that it truly does take a dedication to self to be a responsible educated consumer in order to live a balanced healthy life. Am I perfect? Far from it, but I do what I can to be an educated consumer.
I’m at my local farmers market as much as possible. It's a lot less expensive and helps the farmers. The produce is so much more flavorful than if it were shipped from another country where they may use pesticides that are outlawed in our country, but can still be used elsewhere. Additionally, a lot of local farmers grow amazing heirloom varieties of produce that are packed full of flavor that are never seen in chain grocery stores. I buy whole grains that I can add my own seasoning to, so that I can control the sodium content. I buy products in the 1 “natural products” aisle at the store to ensure that I'm not getting any MSG or preservatives. I make my own salad dressings with just a few simple ingredients which is not only delicious but also saves money.
I am not a nutritionist. I am a fight-against-flab foodie through and through. Arm yourself with your reading glasses and your fork and have fun! See you at the market!