While in the checkout line at a local grocery store, I was busy placing my food items on the conveyer belt. The young clerk is busy weighing the produce and suddenly looks at me and says, “Everything in your cart is healthy”. Surprised at her statement, I must have had a very quizzical look on my face because her next statement was, “Most people buy food in boxes or cans”. Interesting observation.
I must admit that I shop like my mother. I was blessed with a mother who was an immigrant to the United States. As the youngest of seven children, I frequently walked with her to the local neighborhood grocery store. There we purchased colorful produce, fresh meats, cheese and other dairy products. Cereal and whole grains were the items in a package. Without any nutrition education, my mom purchased these items all the time.
When my older brother and sisters returned home from school, they frequently asked for some packaged items like candy, sweets or chips that they had seen at school. My mother’s reply was consistent, “I do not have money for those items. Fruit is sweet, it is God’s candy.” I think this discussion was burned into my memory, because I repeated it many times to my family.
For over 50 years, the American Dietetic Association has encouraged fresh food versus processed food. But the food industry spends about 11 billion dollars per year advertising packaged food items and even tells us “we do not have time to cook”.
As a dietitian, how do I begin to counter those dollars with my sales pitch of “fill half your plate with colorful produce”?
But that is a beginning for most people. Each week, the local grocery store ads will offer produce on sale. Since the items change each week, it provides a wide variety of fresh produce at lower prices (frozen vegetables and fruits are healthy choices, too). In the fall, fresh apples are at their best, crisp and juicy. Each week a new variety of apple will be on sale. Try all the varieties from gala to granny smith.
To save money, look at your cart. Do you see chips, cookies, candy etc. in it? Save them for special occasions. Save your money for “God’s candy”.