In a perfect world, I would have my well-planned grocery list at my fingertips every time I go shopping. Unfortunately, this is not quite the case 99.9% of the times, but still, my goal is to get in and out of the market as quick as possible.
Here some tips and tricks on how to maximize the efficiency and the consciousness of what we buy.
Choose simple ingredients, meaning less processed as possible, and always read the ingredient list.
Putting this into practice becomes easier if we make a simple daily exercise. Imagine going for groceries with our great grandmothers. All the edible foodlike substances that they wouldn’t recognize as food, should be probably disregarded. Or, eventually, when reading (always) the ingredient list of whatever we buy, if there are “coded” ingredients with names that are closer to a Star Wars robot than a nutrient, it is better to think twice before placing it in our shopping cart.
Do not be fascinated by the descriptive words of a fancy novel product label, go straight to the ingredient list and find out yourself what it really is. Food companies use certain phrases to make consumers believe that their product is more nutritious and healthy, than what it truly is.
Remember that the ingredient list on a food label is the listing of each ingredient in descending order of predominance: ingredients that weigh the most are listed first, the ingredients that weigh the least are listed last.
Get used to identify sugar content in whatever you buy.
It comes in many forms on food labels, including: sugar, sucrose, corn sugar, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose glucose syrup (HFCS), honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, isoglucose, levulose, maltose, molasses, dehydrated cane juice, cane sugar, raw sugar, and more. For more information on sugar and their respective Glycemic Index, please visit the related page: Alternative Sweeteners.
Try to approach all products stating to be whole grain with a certain skepticism.
If you are searching for a 100% whole wheat product, the first ingredient listed should be “Whole Wheat Flour,” “100% Whole Wheat Flour,” or “Wholemeal Flour”, only. Likewise, when you see “Whole Grain” on a package, flip it over to double-check that the product is made of unrefined cereal grains like barley, rice, oats, or flax.
Beware of the length of the ingredient list. Remember that only ingredients required to bake wholemeal bread are: wholemeal flour, water, yeast, salt, and a pinch of sugar.
Do not assume that multigrain bread is made with whole grains. Multigrain sounds incredibly nutritious, but it does not necessarily contain a variety of whole grains. There are no standardized definitions for the label “multigrain” so, more often than not, multigrain products only contain refined, processed, bleached grains and flours, sadly.
Pick organic whole meal unbleached and unenriched flours.
The word “whole meal” refers to the fact that all of the grain (bran, germ and endosperm) is used in the process of making the flour. This is in contrast to white refined flours, which contain only the endosperm. Beyond having a lower GI than refined flours, whole meal flour has more nutrients, it is a full-flavored flour containing vitamins, minerals and protein: a good source of calcium, iron, fiber and other minerals like selenium.
Remember to always read the labels of flours as well, avoiding flours that list parts of the grain as ingredients. It happened to me several times to grab a package of “organic wholemeal flours” whose ingredients were: enriched white flour and wheat germ bran, sorry to say but this a scam! Instead, look for a simple statement: 100% wholemeal wheat flour. For more information on wholemeal flours you can visit the post: Baking Bread with Wholemeal Flours
Try to purchase fruits and vegetables at local markets, better if certified as organic.
This mean that fruits and vegetables are organic farming compliant. Organic farming standards feature practices that strive to foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. This mean you will have to choose between tinier carrots, paler oranges and smaller bananas, this sound a bit discouraging but, with time, you realize that those are the real shape and colors of “real” fruits and veggie.
Happy food shopping!