Hi everyone. I'm currently a grad student and am trying to get my life together when it comes to health!
As I try to transition to more whole foods/natural/organic diets, I would love to hear all of your thoughts about where I should shop and why...I'm particularly looking at Whole Foods (because they seem to be everywhere) and would appreciate hearing your thoughts-both positive and negative. Are there better alternatives? Any help would be appreciated.
I don't have a Whole Foods within a 4 hour radius of me, so that kind of sucks but Trader Joes is great. You can also look on line to find your local farmers markets and "mom and pop" whole foods stores.
Farm Fresh has a really nice little whole foods section also. If you don't have a Farm Fresh, maybe check your local grocery stores to see if any have a whole foods section.
You can shop at your local grocery store and follow a whole foods diet
I have found though that in general, my local grocery store tends to overcharge for organic type foods.
My choices are the following:
- Local farms/farmers markets - These are very seasonal for us so they sometimes aren't an option but when they are, I try to utilize them. Pick Your Own is also great fun
- Local organic market that focuses on local and organic produce. The produce isn't always local but it is always organic. You might find similar markets in your area, some are often co-ops.
- Asian markets. Asian markets are awesome for an array of produce. None of it is marked organic but it seems that some of the produce doesn't seem to be grown with pesticides.
- Trader Joe's. I don't like them for produce but I will sometimes buy my sprouted bread and raw almond butter from them.
- Whole Foods. The 365 brand is fairly inexpensive and they will often have good sales on a couple produce items.
- Costco. I actually used to shop at Costco all the time but then I realized that prices elsewhere were much better and less packaging especially on things like apples.
- Local grocery store. This is actually my worst case scenario We have Giant ($$$), Safeway ($$) and Bloom ($$). Speciality products and organic produce tend to be way overpriced at my local chain grocery stores so I rarely go into them.
You can't out-exercise poor eating habits.
For now, I focus on eating as many vegetables as I can. This means that I don't rule out frozen veggies (frozen Broccoli at Costco is a good buy and good quality in my experience). I buy grains (bulgur, barley, rice) and legumes (dry lentils, garbanzos, canned beans, too) from my grocery store (Giant) and produce as well. I buy huge quantities of quinoa at Costco for the best price I've found, but you have to be a careful shopper there. I currently buy meat from an amish market, the closest thing I've been able to find to a local producer.
In an ideal world, when I lived in Madison, WI, I shopped at a Co-Op and the farmers market for veggies. I had an excellent bulk food section from which to purchase whole wheat flours (and other grail flours), grains and legumes from. I bought meat directly from a farmer nearby.
I feel that Whole Foods is over priced but can serve the need. I try to find other alternatives because I don't like the store I have near me. Luckily, it's getting to be spring and farmers markets are heating up!
I use a combination of the following, depending on season, money, and time:
farmers' market (spring/summer/fall only here), Trader Joe's (for certain products, like Nelie mentioned), food co-ops, mom-n-pop grocery store (it's across the street from my house, so I use it most because of its convenience).
I tend to buy whole foods, mostly vegetables and fruits on sale. I eat meat about 2-3 times a week, and try to make sure it's as ethically raised as possible. I make my own bread, most condiments (bbq sauce, salad dressing), and spice mixes.
And when I can, I do container gardening for herbs, tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers.
I shop in a LOT of places, mostly to keep my budget in check.
Nearly all produce is grown in my backyard or from a farmer's market on Sunday. I plan my meals so the long-lasting stuff is served at the end of the week and the more perishable stuff is at the beginning of the week, which lets me shop for produce only once a week.
Dried beans and grains come from a store that also stocks fresh and dried fruits and herbs. Their prices are very low because of their business model - the back of the shop is basically a giant dehydrator, so they buy produce and what they can't sell, they dehydrate to sell as dried. I'll also buy dried fruit there if I am buying any.
I buy a few things at Costco - they have good prices on organic coffee and organic, low-sodium chicken broth...since I can buy the organic versions there for less than the conventional, it's worth it to me. I also get mineral water, greek yogurt, and produce if it is grown fairly locally and a good price.
I go to another store about an hour away and stock up once a month on meats...they slaughter on-site in small amounts, and I'm more comfortable with that than a giant slaughterhouse. They sell all kinds of meats, either plain or pre-marinated, for pretty good prices, so it'is worth the drive to me (I also have family there, so I usually squeeze in a visit).
We buy very little at a standard grocery store - mostly cheese and dairy, and whole grain breads if we're not baking our own.
This is what works for me, but my point is really that if you explore, you can find lots of hidden gems where you can get good quality, inexpensive whole foods, and usually support a small business in the meanwhile.