Supermarkets have pervaded modern society. The jumbo stores with big lights can be seen in cities throughout the world. They can be hard to avoid when you need food, especially when it is the closest place to your house. Today, I offer up five quick reasons why you should probably be avoiding your supermarket, and what some better options are.
- 1. Processed ‘Food’ Bonanza
More than 85% of the store is filled with crap I’ll never eat. And it’s crap you shouldn’t be eating if you want to live a healthy life! I use the term ‘food’ lightly, which is the reason for quotations. What we are actually talking about here is non-food. So much of it is processed into an item that has a shelf life equavalent of a plastic bag. These are not things that will give you vibrant health. Life supports life and all of this food is dead. I try to stay out of the aisles, and shop in the produce section when I do make a visit. And don’t get me started on the ridiculous amount of packaging on these products, even eco friendly products or organic products are often wrapped in plastic inside of a box, then put in another plastic bag. Also, it would be good to avoid getting plastic bags at checkout. Why add the environment to the list of casualties? The casualty to your body is already too much to bear.
- 2. Pesticides Galore
They have a produce section, sure. So you can shop in this section for fresh fruits and veggies, possibly add in some grains and nuts. And now you’re rolling in the warm embrace of a healthful lifestyle, right? And you did it all at your supermarket. Wrong! As much as I’d like this to be true, it isn’t. The produce in supermarkets is often the worst produce available. Supermarket produce is the processed equivalent of real, wholesome, organic, unmodified food from your garden. If they could make apples in factories, they would. It is sickening what I have come to learn about the number of pesticides and other harsh chemicals being found on food I put inside my body. Only two supermarkets I have been to had organic sections, and they were small and limited. Some produce goes bad (I’ve heard cherries are reputed for this) so soon after being picked they are covered with anti-life chemicals that make even the mould and decomposing bacteria disregard it as food. Do you really want to eat that? If you do buy non-organic produce from your supermarket, paying attention to the “Dirty Dozen” list would help keep you healthier. It is a list of the 12 ‘dirtiest’ food in terms of pesticide use.
- 3. Expensive Inefficiencies
I have seen employees taking down perfectly good looking carton’s of pre-made salads and veggie mixes. Where were they bringing these? The garbage! Who pays for this? YOU DO! The supermarket is not there to lose money, so you can bet the price increases to account for this. It is the same as stores that experience shoplifting. Prices need to go up in order for them to make a profit. All the money lost in wasted food (and there is A LOT of it) must be recouped somehow. Employee’s standing around talking? Your purchases fund this. They hire several employees, and the turnover is expensive. When someone is hired they must be interviewed, trained, and managed appropriately. This uses even more resources and that cost is passed down to you. This just doesn’t happen with small-time operations and home farms.
- 4. Squashing Your Small-time Farmer
I support local farmers. The way of life is awesome – and anyone who still grows their own food has my respect. If they grow extra and try to bring in some money, I want them to have mine! Many people attempt a livelihood by selling quality produce, but they are competing against the supermarket chains and an uneducated public; a hard battle to win. I want to make their battle a little easier. These farmers are much more likely to have organic produce grown in a sustainable way that has not travelled half way across the world. You’re often served by somebody who is thankful for your purchase with a genuine smile, usually the growers themselves! This makes for a better life experience.
- 5. Diversity? What diversity?
When was the last time you bought anything exotic or new at your supermarket that you never tried or heard of? What about an amazing heirloom tomato variety, or dinosaur kale? Any exotic fruit? You’d be hard pressed to find a durian or jackfruit in your supermarket. The things actually offered are genetically modified to maximize yield and produce uniformly, rather than focusing on nutrition or flavour. Hybrids and GMO foods are everywhere you look. You can pretty much expect to see the same small subset of produce in every supermarket, with few exceptions. With over 2,000 species of fruits and variations within those, and huge numbers of vegetables, nuts, beans and so much more, why limit yourself?
Now that I’ve ruined your local supermarket for you, where can you shop? I have a few recommendations but it will depend on what is available in your area.
My first recommendation is to grow your own food. You can probably grow most of what you should eat; and you probably shouldn’t eat most of what you can’t grow.
My second would be locating a local food co-op, or finding a farmer to negotiate with directly. I am part of a community shared agriculture program which drops off local, organic produce to many pick up points around my province. They have a subscription program and lots of options for customizing these boxes. I pay $25 for my haul which often contains organic apples, bananas, oranges, living greens, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and so much else. Since it is almost all local (mine has a 100% local option) I know my food has not travelled far, and since it is all organic, I know I am eating wholesome produce the way nature intended.
And my third, would be shopping at your farmer’s market. I always get amazing prices on my fruit and veggies when I shop here, and the people behind the counters have always been friendly. I have worked out deals with a few people to pick up bulk orders, such as a box of bananas, and got some custom, home made spelt pasta with no eggs, or milk (the guy did awesome, the pasta was great).
Be the change you want to see in the world. You are essentially casting a vote for the world you want to see when you spend money. So shop consciously, support better food sources and allow your supermarkets to die away to be replaced by something better. Mould a better world with your money!