September 1, 2005 by Allen George
Grocery shopping with me is a chore. Like most people, I leave my house with a list. You know – the staples – bread, cereal, milk… But, when I enter that grocery store, the list is forgotten and it serves only as the slimmest of references. All of you who like setting strict plans – especially when it comes to grocery shopping – leave me behind. I’ll only slow you down.
Well, it’s not as if I forgot the list. But I’m like a little child (!) and am perpetually fascinated with the novel. If there’s a new product, and it looks interesting and I may eat it, I’ll stop to check it out.
First, the name. The name? Well – yeah. The name gives you a lot of clues about the actual product itself. Take bread. I only eat whole grain bread. So
[stunned] Two birds just dive bombed my window…
Umm… oh yeah. So breads with names like “100% Wheat”, or “Honey Wheat” are ignored. Saves a lot of time.
Next, the calories. I have a fair idea of how much food I need to eat in a day. I also have a good idea of how I prepare my food and how many calories I eat in a meal. Obsessive? Maybe – but I’ve past the point of caring. Years of looking at calorie labels and proportions has left me with a fairly good judgement of whether the food’s ‘reasonable’ for me to eat. It’s a judgement call obviously. Some days I’ll buy food I know isn’t remotely healthy – *cough*Fig Newtons*cough* – other days I’ll studiously avoid it. I err on the side of caution.
Finally, I check the ingredients. This is much more important if I’m buying something sweetened. I try to avoid both “high fructose corn syrup” and the artificial sweetners. Yeah, yeah, it has more calories – but if I want something sweet – it may as well use sugar.
It’s in the sweetners that I’ve noticed the biggest difference between Canadian and American products. American products almost exclusively use “high fructose corn syrup”. In fact, you have to go out of your way (which I do) and pay more (which I also do) to buy products that don’t contain that sweetener.
Take bread for example.
In Safeway, there are over 30 different types of bread. Orowheat, Safeway, Sara Lee… Stone Ground, Wheat, Whole Wheat, Zucchini Bread, Rye… You name it – it’s there. I’ve only found one company – Campbell Bread Baking – that avoids the stuff. The bread’s pretty damn good, but expensive.
A little nutty? Maybe. But I do take my food seriously. Last term Rob commented on the inordinate amount of breaded fish fillets I ate for dinner. Ah – that’s true Rob – I love my fish. But did you know that the fillets I ate were pre-baked, not pre-fried? And that they also have the lowest calories/fillet? Maybe not, but I look for these things.
I take my sweet time grocery shopping. I avoid a whole range of foods based on my (some may call it arbritrary) criteria. And you would not want to go grocery shopping with me.