Monday, June 7, 2010

Be a Savvy Vegetarian Shopper

I am a busy 20-something vegetarian working for a non-profit.  This equates to a limited supply of cash as well as time.  What I do have going for me is the ability to choose the products I buy and eat.  I do my best to be an educated consumer and make an effort to be cognizant about the food I am putting into my body.   

I think there are 3 questions we should always ask ourselves when shopping for food:

Where did this product come from?  Was it shipped from overseas or did it come from California?

What ingredients was it made with?  High Fructose Corn Syrup = No way Jose!  Words I can't pronounce?  No Bueno.

Does this company use ethical practices?  Do they treat their employees fairly? Do they use pesticides?  Are their practices sustainable?

With those little pieces of information we can begin to put the right things in our baskets.  We can rest easy knowing that we chose foods that are locally grown, free from pesticides and made with natural ingredients.  This doesn't mean we are perfect, we can only try our best - Trust me, I stray from my own guidelines here and there.

The simplest way to shop without label-reading is to go directly to your local Farmers Market.  Take advantage of Farmers Markets and stop by regularly to find fruits and veggies that are in season.  You are guaranteed fresh, locally grown and often pesticide-free goods.  The unique thing about shopping at the Farmers Market is that you have people willing to answer all of your questions.  The information is coming directly from the source rather than corporate headquarters.  You can often tour the farm if you wish, all you have to do is ask.  Talk about knowing where your food comes from!

That same sense of security is not present when you walk down the aisles of a grocery store.  Those aisles hold more mystery than information.  I prefer shopping at my local health food store because I find it is easier to locate the good stuff.  Their selection is usually smaller because they eliminate most of the junk that larger chain stores carry; making it easier on the consumer.  You can also save some pennies by buying from the bulk section.  You can find oatmeal, rice, flour, you name it!  Just scoop it and buy it for less.  

I often hear people say that buying healthy food is too expensive.  This may seem like the case but it is important to recognize what you are paying for.  The nutritional value of junk food is next to nothing while the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables is huge.  You are paying a few extra cents for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  When consumers opt for the cheap, processed foods they are paying for trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and chemicals. 

Therefore, aren't fresh, whole foods worth the extra money?
On top of that, if you're a vegetarian think about the money you're saving by not buying those expensive cuts of meat.   We only have one body to live in for the rest of our lives, so why skimp on the important stuff like quality food?  We don't need that new pair of shoes or a manicure but we do need food loaded with vitamins and nutrients.  It's up to us to utilize the resources we have. 

Happy shopping!


  1. Good advice, is that your lunch today in the photo? If only i would think of these 3 little things as i'm scouting out the snack isle. I am eating a lot of bananas with cin/raisin peanut butter. But i still like Cheez-its every couple months.

  2. I've recently become a vegetarian so i'll use these tips next time i go shopping ;)
    thanks kate!!

  3. Great advise. I'm not a vegetarian but I do love healthy foods. Yes, true they cost a bit more but aren't we worth it? Fuel for the body... We have a farm that sells fresh fruits and vegetables located next to our property. We're very lucky! Keep healthy Kate! Blog til the cows come home ...

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