The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
5 Ways to Make Grocery Shopping Healthier for You and the Planet
Grocery stores in the U.S. are brimming with plenty. Aisle after aisle in these sprawling food meccas is filled with multiple choices, often of similar or identical products—that it can be overwhelming.
Maybe you enjoy food "window shopping"—browsing the alternatives and seeing what products are out there before making your picks. Or maybe you're one of those people who makes a list and a plan and hurries to get just what you need and get out. Either way, there are somethings to keep in mind for healthier shopping beyond the old saw about "Don't go grocery shopping when you're hungry."
Photo credit: Shutterstock
1. You've probably heard this one before too but avoid the middle aisles as much as possible and shop the perimeters. That's where the unprocessed foods tend to be—produce, dairy products, meats, usually the bakery. Of course, there will be times when you need to pick up coffee, tea, flour or crackers. But the middle aisles are where a lot of processed, packaged foods—like sugary cereals—lie in wait.
2. Start in the produce department and make your cornerstone purchases there. If you fill up your basket and budget there, there's less room for that bag of cookies. And don't just go for a handful of your old favorites when it comes to vegetables and fruits. While almost all are loaded with healthful vitamins and minerals linked to prevention of a whole range of diseases, each has different nutrients in differing amounts. Kale is great, but so are collards and mustard greens and other leafy vegetables. Get a variety of colors too because color is an indicator of which nutrients that particular one has in abundance. And try something new as well. That odd-looking Asian melon might become a new favorite.
3. When you're shopping in those middle aisles, read the labels. Go for the choice that has fewer additives and mystery ingredients, less sugar and salt, and no high-fructose corn syrup. Even if it has a splashy banner that says something like "All Natural!," investigate. While "organic" actually does have a meaning, "natural" doesn't. It can be slapped on anything.
4. In the dairy section, look for butter and milk that are labeled as free of growth hormones and antibiotics. As for eggs, the variety of labels like "cage-free," "free-range," "pasture -raised," "Omega-3 enriched" and "organic" can be confusing. The first three refer to the conditions under which the chickens were raised with free-range better than cage-free and pasture-raised best of all. Organic assures that the chickens have had organic feed and no hormones. Omega-3 enriched is one of those things that makes less difference than marketers want you to think. And no, brown eggs aren't healthier than white ones.
5. Watch out in the beverage aisle, although unless you are picking up coffee or tea, we're not sure why you are there. There are healthy juices certainly, but they're probably in the coolers, not in the aisles where they'd have to be packed with preservatives to extend their shelf life. And that includes some of those fancy energy and athletic drinks which frequently have a lot of added sugar as well.
We'll close with another tip you probably already know. When you head for the checkout, you should be done. Many markets load up the shelf by the checkout with impulse snack purchases and these are virtually never good for you. Refrain.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Climate change is having a grizzly effect on Mount Everest as melting snow and glaciers reveal some of the bodies of climbers who died trying to scale the world's highest peak.
The Navajo Nation have decided to stop pursuing the acquisition of a beleaguered coal-fired power plant in Arizona, locking in the plant to be taken offline and its associated coal mine to close later this year.
A Navajo Nation Council committee voted 11-9 last week to stop pursuing the purchase of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station, which with the Kayenta coal mine provides more than 800 jobs to primarily Navajo and Hopi workers as well as tribal royalties.
A coalition of utilities that own the plant said in 2017 it would cease operations due to increased economic pressure, and the plant's future has proved a flash point for national and regional energy policy and raised larger questions on how Native communities will handle ties to fossil fuel industries as the economy changes.
For a deeper dive:
By Jeff Turrentine
Is it just us?
Other countries don't seem to have a problem getting their high-speed rail systems on track. This superfast, fuel-efficient form of mass transit is wildly popular throughout Asia and the European Union. Japan's sleek Shinkansen line, the busiest high-speed rail system in the world, carries an estimated 420,000 riders every weekday. In China, the new Fuxing Hao bullet train now hurries more than 100 million passengers a year between Beijing and Shanghai at a top speed of 218 miles an hour, allowing its riders to make the trip of 775 miles — roughly the distance from New York City to Chicago — in about four and a half hours. Spain, Germany and France together have more than 4,500 miles of track dedicated to high-speed rail, over which more than 150 million passengers travel annually.
By Coda Christopherson (11) and Lea Eiders (15)
Growing up in a plastic-free home, I was sheltered from the plastic waste crisis. I (Coda) went to a very progressive school that had vegan lunch items, farm animals and ran on solar power. My mom produces zero-waste events and my dad is a sailor, so we're very passionate about the ocean. When I was nine years old, we moved back to Manhattan Beach, California and I started 3rd grade in a public school. This was the first time I really understood that plastic-free living is not the norm; single-use plastics were everywhere, especially in the cafeteria. Once I recognized this problem, I knew I had to make a difference.
Henry Avocado issued the recall Saturday after a routine government inspection at its California packing facility turned up positive test results for the bacteria on "environmental samples," the company said in a statement. No illnesses have been reported.
Oil executives gathered for a conference laughed about their "unprecedented" access to Trump administration officials, according to a recording obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
In the recording, taken at a June 2017 meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) at a Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, members expressed excitement about one official in particular: David Bernhardt, who had been nominated that April to be deputy secretary at the Department of Interior (DOI). Bernhardt would be confirmed the following month.
"We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues," IPAA political director Dan Naatz said in the recording.