Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Trip Down the Ai$le

My husband and I recently took a weekend trip to Carmel, California. After a day of activities, including dinner, I concluded that I needed some headache medicine and maybe a few bottles of water. Coveniently, Safeway just opened a brand new store across from our hotel! Mind you, I have not set foot in a Safeway for years because of the pathetic selection of organic produce and healthy foods in general. We were determined to scout out every aisle, in search of a late night snack without trans fats or high fructose corn syrup. There were bad guys everywhere! We slowly approach the refrigerated section with the dairy products and what was labeled as "HEALTH" in large letters over the transparent glass door. Taking a closer look, a SALE tag says "buy one get one free" but the product was already sold out! Yes, our favorite HEALTH FOOD, whipped cream (a.k.a whip-its) seemed to be out of stock. I can just imagine the decision making process taking place.
One development of note: Safeway now sells a house branded Organic line of snacks. That made me happy. I don't know where they get their produce. It probably travels a ridiculous distance to get to the store even if the product is grown nearby. The main distribution center receives all of the product from the farm or factory and then the trucks ship the food to the appropriate stores. I wonder if all of the hybrid car drivers who feel they really stick it to the man realize that the meals they eat from the neighborhood burger joint consumed as much oil to get to their plate as a HUMMER does in a month. I like that Trader Joe's makes the effort to carry organic produce at a low price. The downfall is that the grapes have to travel from Chile or some South American country to get here at a discount price. Oil is not only something we use in our cars people! It is estimated that the average american meal travels about 1500 miles to get from farm to plate. (CUESA stat) Try your best to buy as much local product as you can. You have a choice. Safeway is so depressing because they get paid to put items on their shelves. Marion Nestle's book FOOD POLITICS says that "116,000 packaged foods and beverages have been introduced since 1990, and these joined a marketplace that now contains 320,000 items competing for supermarket shelf space large enough to hold just 50,000." Big companies with big money will be choosing for you and your family. Fortunately, Whole Foods and independent stores like Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco do not accept money for product positioning. They feature local foods including delicious produce (Whole Foods even makes special signs to indicate "local product" in all departments of the store) and fresh baked breads or desserts. I am not sure I want to hear this "whole foods = whole paycheck" crap anymore. Control yourself, spend a bit more, eat a bit less. Quality food honestly is more satisfying and you actually might want to free yourself from the chains of a transfat, high fructose lifestyle. Oh, and huffers, check out that special on whipped cream in the health food section at Safeway.

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