Food Buying Hierarchy
This is basically how I organize the decisions I have when I buy food. I try and stay close to the top as much as possible!
(1) Free! Plant your own kitchen garden – many herbs even do well potted indoors.
Learn how to can, freeze, cold store so you can store whole foods throughout the winter.
(2) Local foods
CSA, farmer’s market, directly from farmers
(3) Food Co-Ops
(4) Health food stores
(5) Local stores
Grocery stores, bakeries, etc.
(6) Health foods sections at chain stores
(7) Whole/organic from grocery stores
(8) Buying non-organic
Minimally processed < 5 ingredients
(9) Pre-made foods (part, but not the majority of your meal
Salsas, salad dressings, sauces, etc. parts of meal but not whole meal
(10) Processed foods
Kraft, frozen pizzas, frozen dinners, box mixes, etc.
This is really important when buying food from the grocery store – make sure to look at the ingredients list!
Ingredients to avoid:
*HFCS and its corn-derived cousins
-Modified/unmodified starch, glucose syrup, maltodextrin, crystalline fructose, ascorbic acid, lecithin, dextrose, lactic acid, lysine, maltose, MSG, polyols, caramel color, xanthan gum, cyclodextrins, sorbitol, mannitol
*Preservatives of any kind
-Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) – a preservative – and suspected carcinogen
-Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
-Nutrasweet, splenda, equal, etc.
-Found in cured & processed meats
-FD&C blues #1 and 2, green #3, and yellow #5 and 6
Buy the “dirty dozen” organic and the “safer” produce conventionally. By steering clear of “dirty dozen” you reduce pesticide exposure by 90%!
Onions, avocadoes, frozen sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, frozen sweet peas, asparagus, kiwis, bananas, cabbage, broccoli, eggplant
Peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, grapes, pears, spinach, potatoes
“Small Steps” – Practical ideas for starting the process.
*Take a food preservation course (or learn from a friend) to learn ways to store:
*Schedule farm tours to learn more about how your food is grown
*Share homegrown food and recipes with others
*Have a “scavenger week” once every two months or so (don’t buy groceries, just recycle what you have left in your cupboards/fridge – be creative!)
*Plant herbs or plants in pots around your home – it will give you an appreciation for the process
*Maintain a kitchen garden (www.kitchengardeners.org)
*Purchase a CSA (www.localharvest.org)
*Eat fresh, whole foods and minimally processed foods (fewer than 5 ingredients)
*Work your way up the hierarchy – if you tend to buy all processed, try out minimally processed; if you usually buy minimally processed, start buying unrefined/organic
*Commit to eating homemade once a week – make it a group or family event
*Only buy fruits and veggies that are in season – learn the art of delayed gratification:
*College students – since you don’t have to spend time making meals, this is the perfect time to start learning how to cook for fun – use it to learn how to make things homemade!
*Set aside intentional time to learn how to prepare new things from scratch
*Buy fair trade tea, coffee, and chocolate
*Check out the “good food” checklist:
*Search out & support restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries that use locally grown produce: http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?pd=Home
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (Barbara Kingsolver)
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving (Judi Kingry)
Putting Food By (Janet Greene)