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How Healthy People Shop

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How Healthy People Shop

By Alyssa Ford, Experience Life

Turn on the local news, page through a magazine or scan a website, and you’re bound to be inundated with nutritional advice. The problem is that much of this advice sounds like abstract dictums — “Eat healthier!” “Make nutritious choices!” — that aren’t very helpful at the grocery store, where you’re faced with an empty cart and lots of tough calls.

To help us navigate this dilemma, five well-respected nutrition experts have graciously allowed us to (figuratively speaking) tag along on a routine shopping trip. They answered all kinds of questions about their personal grocery-buying habits, which we hope will provide some helpful inspiration and guidance on your next trip to the store.

Here’s our team:

  • Liz Lipski, PhD, clinical nutritionist and the author of Digestive Wellness (McGraw-Hill, 2005), lives in Asheville, N.C.
  • Kathie Swift, MS, RD, nutrition director at the UltraWellness Center, lives in Pittsfield, Mass.
  • David Katz, MD, public health professor at the Yale University School of Medicine, lives in New Haven, Conn.
  • Margaret Wittenberg, global vice president of Whole Foods Market and author of New Good Food (Ten Speed Press, 2008), lives in Fredericksburg, Texas.
  • Rory Freedman, devoted vegan, self-taught nutrition buff and coauthor of Skinny Bitch in the Kitch (Running Press, 2007), lives in Los Angeles.

Stop No. 1 – Produce Section
For our crew of nutrition experts, the produce section is where the action is. Swift estimates that $50 of her $70 weekly food budget is spent on fresh produce — most of it certified organic and purchased at the supermarket and natural foods store close to her house. Freedman, too, is a produce fiend. Each week, she takes home a head of garlic, three or four zucchini, a bunch of kale, two bunches of celery, four or five cucumbers, one bunch of carrots, one head of red cabbage, one package of spinach, one package of mixed greens, one bunch of scallions, three tomatoes, four or five avocados, four apples, two oranges, two mangoes, two peaches, two young coconuts, two limes, two lemons, one bunch of bananas, one box of raspberries, one box of blueberries, and one box of strawberries. Whew! And all of that is just for her.

Katz uses an entire bag of prewashed organic mixed greens for his dinner salad. “I never met a leaf of lettuce I didn’t like,” he says gleefully.

Swift lets her senses guide her, knowing that the most vibrant and beautiful fruits and vegetables are the ones most likely in season. “There’s a reason the apples look so amazing in fall, and the strawberries so succulent in May,” she says. She also shops by color, making sure that her cart includes all the color groups — from dark green (arugula, bok choy, chard) to red-blues (berries, red cabbage, radicchio) to yellow-oranges (peaches, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe) and whites (garlic, cauliflower, potatoes).

Wittenberg generally knows what she needs when she walks through those sliding grocery-store doors, but she loves getting distracted in the produce aisle and letting her impulses take over. “The other day, the produce section had radicchio di Treviso, which I had never seen before, and I said to myself, ‘Oh, I gotta try that,’” she says. If she splurges on a decadent treat, this is where it happens. “We hadn’t planned it, but the other day my husband picked up some organic cherries that were just awesome.”

Produce-section tip: Pesticide levels vary among fresh produce. If you can afford to buy only some organically grown items, prioritize those that, when grown conventionally, are treated most heavily with pesticides and herbicides: lettuce, spinach, celery, red peppers, potatoes, apples, strawberries, cherries, peaches, nectarines, grapes and pears.

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Read more: Basics, Conscious Consumer, Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Eco-friendly tips, Food, Green, Green Kitchen Tips, Home, Household Hints, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, , , , , , ,

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1:49PM PDT on Aug 18, 2011

What if all the energy the plants put into fruit and seed production was instead just juice placed into a pitcher plant. This idea is further elaborated in the following site...

8:47AM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

Really interesting. Seeing a lot of habits similar to my own, so good to know I'm doing something right, though I prefer to buy from farmer's markets and health food shops.
Thanks =)

10:14AM PDT on Jul 27, 2011

I hit up the farmers market once a week to get local produce. I don't buy disposable plastic anymore and bring my own mesh bags for produce. There are quite a few items even in the produce section at the supermarket that I cant buy. I have to go to a cheese shop to get my cheese wrapped in paper, and a butcher if I choose to buy meat (although I'm cutting down on both drastically) I want to eat healthy but a lot of healthier options still use too much packaging.

11:51PM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

this article is very informative. In my country , i'm advised not to select fruit or vegetable which look big or nice form

11:50PM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

this article is very informative. In my country , i'm advised to select fruit or vegetable which look big or nice form

8:23AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

It's my birthday! Please sign my petition to get a recycling program in my school system!! :) Thank you!!
(Just copy and paste the link to your browser)

12:19AM PDT on Jul 26, 2011

That all sounds great but I'm not sure that great-looking fruits and vegetables on stalls are grown without pesticides and are as healthy as they look.

10:37PM PDT on Jul 25, 2011

Great article! It had some tips I'm gonna apply at my next trip to the grocery. ;)

3:07PM PDT on Jul 25, 2011

great. thanks.

10:59PM PDT on Jul 24, 2011

Thanks for the article, very interesting.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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