Which Potato Do You Buy?

Let’s talk potatoes shall we? The lowly dietary staple that everyone and his brother runs down as the unhealthiest thing ever. So simple, so ordinary we use it to describe lazy people ( couch potatoes ) or plain eaters ( meat and potato kinda-guy ). That potato.

Let’s just say straight out of the gate that I adore potatoes in just about any form. And I firmly disagree with any notion that they are unhealthy in any way. That isn’t what I want to talk about today. Nope, not at all. I want to talk about the processing of good healthy food into stuff that isn’t as healthy and costs a mega-truckload more to buy using the lowly potato as an example.

Are You Paying More to Buy Unhealthy Food?

Walk into a health food store and you’ll find a full aisle of potato chips made with various cooking oils, heat sources and flavorings. Most of these chips are little better for you than standard Lay’s Potato Chips. Seriously. They are by and large produced using some polyunsaturated oil all of which we should cut out of our diets as much as we can. (For more info read What Makes a Diet Good? ).

That isn’t my main point here, though. What I’d really like you to notice is how incredibly expensive it is to buy potato chips compared to just a plain, healthy raw potato!

Kettle Chips $.33 p/ounce $5.28 p/lb
Lay’s $.22 p/ounce $3.52 p/lb
Raw Potato $.04 p/ounce $.64 p/lb

By buying potatoes as pre-cooked chips we are now paying 500 to 900% more! For something to eat that is actually a lot less healthy for us. Does this make any sense to you?

So Forget the Coupon Clipping …

The big money in grocery savings comes from cutting out the processed crap.

I know, I know we love this stuff and it’s so convenient. But cutting out chips will make a huge contribution to both your health and having enough money for things like grassfed beef and real dairy.

Let’s grab the low hanging fruit first … cut out any remaining processed food items, slowly as your family adapts to the change. This is one of the steps in The Granny Plan, my book with a detailed plan to help you get real food into your families daily lives.

And I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the only truly healthy packaged potato chip I’m aware of:  Jackson’s Honest Organic Potato Chips. I have been known to grab a small bag while I’m out shopping and they are oh so good! They are cooked in coconut oil. I can’t afford to do this too much though ;-). If you’re gonna keep buying chips anyway, and I know some of you will, this is the way to go.

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Real Food at Walmart – The Dairy Section

The Walmart dairy section on first glance looks like it’s got it’s act together, organic wise. After all they have a lot of organic labels here, Horizon being the most prominent one. Horizon’s parent company Dean Foods has a strong partnership with Walmart. Thus they are stocked in a big way. All isn’t peachy-keen though in dairy organics land though. Virtually all organic dairy is ultra-pasteurized dairy, and Horizon is no exception.

So what’s the difference between pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized milk?

Is this really a big deal? Yes, it is. Ultra-pasteurized dairy products do not require refrigeration before opening and have a shelf life of months. They are a highly processed food. But I know it’s really easy to overlook the difference.

Ultra-Pasteurized Milk is a newfangled food, avoid it whenever possible

Okay, so most of the seemingly good choices in the Walmart dairy aisle are not-so-good. So what are we to do here? What else can we pick from? We have several compromises we could choose to make.

First and most obvious is to simply buy regular whole milk. This is going to be from factory farm dairies with the cows fed GMO grains, antibiotics and hormones. So not so good a choice.

We have Promised Land HHST Pasteurized milk on the shelf at Walmart. This is rBST and rBGH free. I haven’t heard much about HHST pastuerization but Wikipedia had this to say:

1q The other technique is called higher-heat/shorter time (HHST), and it lies somewhere between HTST and UHT in terms of time and temperature.

So not the best, but at least it’s not treated with rBST or rBGH. Since this is a Texas based company I’m not sure how wide a distribution this sees across the country.

Perhaps other regions stock a brand of lower temp pasteurized milk. Ideally, you’d go for a vat pasteurized brand, though I didn’t find anything like that at my Walmart perhaps you’ll have better luck in your region. If you can’t find vat pasteurized next go for whole milk that simply isn’t ultra-pasteurized and hormone free if you can find it. Never choose 2% or skim milk.

So being certified organic is the lesser concern here, though I’m still concerned. Non-organic milk is produced by factory farmed cows eating the same GMO grains we talked about over in the previous post on Walmart beef.

Pasteurized but not ultra-pasteurized …

rBST and rBGH free …

What about cheese and other dairy products?

I did find a number of interesting cheeses like Kerrygold Dubliners Grassfed Cheese in the deli section. I’d stop by this section first for the highest quality cheese. Also, lots of Cabot brand cheese. This is simply labeled “pasteurized”. Butter choices are limited but they do have butter in stock amidst all the PUFA spreads.

Pasteurized cheeses …

 

Butter choices are limited but they are there …

That’s it for this week  … Next week we’ll look at dry goods like grains, flours, pastas, canned goods, condiments, etc … Should be fun!

This post is part of a series – Real Food at Walmart

Introduction: Can it be Done?
Part 1: A Quick Tour of Walmart
Part 2: Fruits and Vegetables
Part 3: Fats and Oils
Part 4: Meat and Bones
Part 5: The Dairy Section
Part 6: Pantry Foods
Conclusion: The Nature of Compromise

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3 Dangerous Ways to Save Money on Food

Here at Granny’s Vital Vittles I talk a lot about how to save money on real food. It concerns me greatly that there are many people in this world that have trouble getting real food to eat due to money issues.  I’d love to see a world where everyone gets real food to eat! 

Now, in order to do that everyone needs to understand what real food is available to them and what they can afford.  Most people believe that real food is too expensive for them. Not the case at all! Now, maybe the highest quality real food 100% of time isn’t affordable. I know I can’t afford that. But it’s affordable for everyone to eat some reasonable quality real food every day. And for the majority it’s possible to enjoy that same reasonable quality real food all day everyday. 

I see many people making these mistakes. Heck, I’ve done them myself many times over the years to help hold the food budget together. Some are cutting out meals and increasing the quality of the remaining ones. Some are just plain cutting costs. But these are dangerous tactics, my friends. These are practices that Granny would have frowned on. You would have received a very stern lecture indeed for saving money by doing any of the following things.

Make no mistake doing these things will impact your health. Maybe not today or tomorrow but a price will eventually be paid in health in the future in order to save money today.

Skipping Meals

This is the biggie I see both young adults and older people doing. What’s the common denominator? Neither group is responsible for feeding young kids! And both groups tend to feel that it won’t hurt them one bit to skip a few calories and lose a little weight.

What would Grandma say about this practice? She’d have plenty to say I’m sure! For a moment just picture every grandmother you can remember in every movie you’ve ever seen and what stereotypical behavior is she engaged in? Usually trying to get someone to eat a meal they’ve just said they don’t want to eat :D. It was common knowledge that skipping meals undermined your health. 

Think that not too many people are *really* doing this? Think again.  This is a very common strategy to reduce food costs. Here’s just one example from the book The American Way of Eating:

“I find that by sleeping late, eating breakfast, taking care of laundry and such and then heading to work, I can keep my meal requirements to just two: late breakfast and then my free late-afternoon meal between the lunch and dinner rushes. I can feel apathy about my meals settling in … I find that if there’s any gnawing hunger between my meals, on workdays I can placate it with soda or a ‘dead’ food … Accordingly, my grocery bills plummet.”

With a little planning and a little time skipping meals will not be necessary anymore to keep your food bills in check. If you’re doing this I highly recommend following The Granny Plan.

Going for the Cheapest Choice

Families tend to go for this one though it’s become way more common in all groups. Students are famous for doing stuff like opting to eat Ramen to get them through the days following draining their bank account for a weekend trip with their buddies. Families commonly employ this tactic by carefully comparing prices between specific foods and deciding which to buy based entirely on cost thinking it’s the only really relevant factor.

Eating poor choices for awhile may be unavoidable from time to time, it’s true. It has happened to me and my family on occasion.  But please, try to ensure that this only happens when it really must.

Don’t do it so that you can eat dinner at an expensive restaurant with a party of friends only to find that you’ve run out of food money for the week. Don’t do it so you can have the latest whiz-bang gadget first. Don’t do it to squeeze out a little extra from the budget for multiple after-school activities. Don’t do it to save for that retirement cruise you’ve always wanted to go on.  These are bad trade-offs. We’re all tempted from time to time but try to resist. 

These decisions are all about priorities. It’s easy to accidentally prioritize something over eating well particularly when friends and family are pressuring you. Financial decisions come at you fast and furious sometimes and we all do the best we can. Just ensure that it happens only when unavoidable … try to keep the accidental mis-prioritization to a minimum.

Relying Heavily on Low Nutrient Foods

If anyone you’re feeding has high-calorie requirements you’ll be pretty familiar with this last strategy. Sometimes it seems the only way to fill up the bottomless pit is with high calorie low nutrient food. Athletes, people with very physical jobs, very large men and teenagers come to mind. The bulk of low nutrient high calorie food is fast food or processed foods. But some of it is still real whole food that could or should be a part of your diet, just not the bulk of your diet. Instead work at increasing the nutrient density by adding foods that pack a punch nutrient-wise but are very affordable. Organ meats for instance. Broth is also pretty inexpensive.  If you increase the nutrient density of their food you may find that they begin to eat less overall. Their bodies are receiving the nutrition they crave and so calorie requirements are reduced. Many people have reported just this when they go on a nutrient dense diet.

Have you tried any of these dangerous strategies to reduce your food bill? Do you feel they are dangerous? What would your mother or grandmother have to say?

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Real Food at Walmart – The Nature of Compromise

This series has been quite the whirlwind ride for me … I’ve learned a lot from my exploration of Walmart’s grocery shelves and from sharing my findings with all of you. Mostly I’ve confirmed what I had expected from my first post, that real food shopping at Walmart would involve a lot of compromise. Those that must shop there, or at any chain store, for whatever reason will be heartened to know that they can make it a considerable part of the way towards a 100% Real Food diet.

Walmart will take you about 30% of the way …

And that’s nothing to sneeze at! In fact, it’s a great start for someone new to scratch cooking and real food. But ideally, you wouldn’t want to compromise this much and stick to just Walmart for very long.

Walmart has a lot of conventional produce choices, lots of CAFO meats, limited dairy choices and a lot of decent grain and pantry food choices. The animal foods have some serious limitations. Only a tiny percentage is organic, which means basically all of the animal based foods are from GMO fed animals. This is a pretty big liability when you depend on these foods for vitamin A, D and K. This is the main reason why I’d put the percent of real food possible at Walmart at about 30%. But the small amount of organic produce concerns me too.

The Nature of Compromise on Real Food

Writing the series has been an exercise in compromise for me … I’m a local foods done Grandma’s way kinda gal. I think this is the best way to eat well frugally and have less stress about the whole thing. I decided to write about Walmart though, out of concern for those in food deserts and those whose families are in transition from the SAD diet to a real foods diet. I’ve taken a bit of heat about it since Walmart isn’t the most popular company. Still, it’s the largest grocer in the United States, and that fact makes it the elephant in the room in any discussion of food quality and affordability. Walmart’s advertising does a great job of positioning the company as the low price leader and those with tight budgets often feel compelled to shop there, almost out of a sense of obligation to keep expenses down. This perception of reduced costs along with the difficulties of starting out finding local food create a sizable obstacle to getting started with real food. What I’ve learned from this series is that it needn’t be, if compromises can be accepted early in the transition. And if folks can come to believe deep in their souls that contrary to what the Walmart ads would have you believe there is a cheaper way to feed your family! And that way is scratch cooking with plain, wholesome ingredients.

All of us start somewhere, right? We are all on some point in the grayscale spectrum from a completely processed food, junk food laden diet right thru to a 100% pristine perfect real food diet. In reality almost no one eats 100% pure junk and almost no one eat 100% real food. It’s a bell curve basically. So everybody from the novice on up to people with years of experience eating this way are making some compromises. Compromise in our busy, pressured, hectic world is inevitable. In reading and learning all about real food none of us truly wants to accept any compromise at all. We all want to have totally clean, nourishing food and live in completely safe non-toxic environments. And each of us us different resources, abilities, duties, obligations and talents. So some make it further on the path to 100% real food than others. Usually we make a mad rush to do what we can ’til progress just kinda stalls and we seem to be stuck where we are at. Then we decide to live with compromise since we can’t seem to get further.

Or if you’re starting from a mostly processed food diet and your family is used to that then to keep from scaring them away from wholesome food by changing too fast it would be a good idea to compromise. You’d go slowly and introduce new from scratch versions of favorites one at a time. You would still want to continue buying most of the old favorites in the meantime, gradually switching them out one by one. To do that you’ll still be going to Walmart, if that is where you shopped before. You could keep doing this until you’ve exhausted all the real food compromise foods at Walmart. Next, start shopping for improved quality foods locally, again one item at a time. You keep going with this until you hit a wall of time or money, then decide to compromise.

All of us real food folks have been thru this process and have decided on a level of compromise that is a more or less comfortable truce in the battle of getting wholesome food for our families. Some of us are at 60-70%, some are as high as 90-95% real food.

But, suppose, as we are assuming for the sake of this series there are no other sources of food around you and you’re stuck with just Walmart? Then 30% real food is as good as it gets! Many people feel this is their situation. If this is true, you’ll find yourself needing to make a choice. Stay where you are and accept that 30% of the way to real food is as far as you can get, or move somewhere with more abundant food resources. That sounds extreme but this is your health we’re talking about! Fellow real foodie blogger Emily at Butter Believer decided to move this year when she hit a wall in her ability to find good, affordable, wholesome food in Hawaii. Not exactly a food desert, but it is an island  . 30% real food isn’t a compromise I personally would feel comfortable making for very long … yes, it’s far better than a strictly processed food diet, but it would still have a number of serious issues.

But first, before taking drastic measures, assume that you may be overlooking some sources of great local food. Chances are good that you are. Almost none of us grew up buying anything from anywhere other than a store. We’re inexperienced at finding local stuff … we need practice! First thing, get in touch with your local Weston A. Price Foundation chapter leader. Ask them about sources for the things you want to buy local as first priority, things like raw milk. You can also look on LocalHarvest.org to see if any farmer is selling anywhere near you. If you can find one, ask them if they know anyone else for your other needs. Do they know of any buying coop’s in your area where you can buy pantry items in bulk? Azure Standard makes grocery drops all throughout the west and some of the midwest, for instance. There may be a buying club near you or perhaps you could start one. If there is anywhere at all where local farmers gather to sell produce stop and talk with them about what you’re needing. If they can’t help they may know someone who can.

Transitioning to Pantry Storage and Local Foods

Moving the family from processed food to real food choices was a pretty big step for all of us. Buying whatever real food choices the chain groceries have, then moving on to buying a few things locally is a MAJOR step forward! If you’ve come this far give yourself a big pat on the back … you deserve it  .

Ok, so now that you’ve basked in the glow of your accomplishment are you ready to talk about the next step forward? Great! In my opinion, the very next thing to do is start building up a pantry. Last spring I did a series on cooking from the pantry called The Pantry Principle. A pantry helps in so many ways to make the life of the cook easier and the food budget more affordable. The series is a great place to start learning about how to make pantry cooking a part of your life. Over the holidays I hope to elaborate further.

This is the final post in the Walmart series … hope everyone’s enjoyed it  ! I’d love to hear your tips on locating good sources of local food, especially in places where it may be hard to find.

This post is part of series … Read the rest by following these links

Introduction: Can it be Done?
Part 1: A Quick Tour of Walmart
Part 2: Fruits and Vegetables
Part 3: Fats and Oils
Part 4: Meat and Bones
Part 5: The Dairy Section
Part 6: Pantry Foods
Conclusion: The Nature of Compromise

 

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Real Food at Walmart – Pantry Foods

We’ve come to the last group of foods in our Ninja-style Real Food shopping at Walmart. This group is a catch-all … basically all the foods that are not quickly perishable. This includes grains, flours, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, canned goods and condiments.

Really, this stuff is the easiest stuff to find at Walmart. Why? Because it’s non-perishable! Walmart and any other grocer just loves that  . Large grocers became profitable with the advent of processed foods precisely because of the long shelf lives. And if they can get a higher markup because it’s organic they are even more pleased. So here we find the greatest number of organic labels. If you must shop at the large chains like Walmart, here is where you’ll find the majority of foods.

Most of the choices here are pretty straightforward. Basically, you’re just looking for the simplest ingredient labels. Rice bags with ingredients of “Rice”, peanut butter jars with ingredients of “peanuts, salt”, etc. And they’re are examples in many, many categories. And if you can find and afford organic definitely go for it  .

Shopping Online

This is also the section where you will find the most benefit from shopping online. Walmart offers virtually all of this shipped to home for free. However, the prices aren’t the best. For instance, Walmart will ship you wheat berries in 6 small packs at the rate of $6.73 per pound. Amazon will also ship to you for free organic red wheat berries in a 25 lb bag for $.84 a pound. This is huge! So check the prices against other websites before you order! The only advantage I can see here is if they will ship to store, and you must pickup there rather than have it delivered to home. But many grocery items do not have a ship to store option.

Flours, Grains and Beans

Found several whole foods companies represented here, Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur Flour, etc. Also lots of good plain grains and beans.

Bob’s Red Mill …

Whole grain flours …

Lots of rice both brown and white varieties …

Lots of legumes …

Rolled oats …


Nuts, Olives, Seeds and Dried Fruit

A few peanut butter choices shown here, but there were more.

Plain nuts are kinda stale at Walmart overall but the olives, peanut butter and dried fruit looked pretty good.

 

Dried fruit …

Canned Goods, Condiments and Assorted Goodies

Lots of organic processed choices like spaghetti sauce and condiments. Some decent wine and lots of organic tomato sauce and paste!

Organic pre-made Spaghetti Sauces …

Saw quite a bit of the Newman’s Own label too …

Sea Salt was available at this store for your ferments. This could also be ordered online …

Muir Glen is well represented on the shelves at Walmart … good prices too!

That’s it for our store overview! Whew, made it to the end  . Next week I plan to review what I’ve found in writing this series. I’d also like to talk about the nature of compromise in the “Real Food” world and it’s place in our constant drive to find better food … see ya then!

This post is part of series … Read the rest by following these links

Introduction: Can it be Done?
Part 1: A Quick Tour of Walmart
Part 2: Fruits and Vegetables
Part 3: Fats and Oils
Part 4: Meat and Bones
Part 5: The Dairy Section
Part 6: Pantry Foods
Conclusion: The Nature of Compromise

 

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Real Food at Walmart – Meat and Bones

This week I wandered into the land of CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) or factory farmed meat at Walmart. I wanted to see if in the sea of packaged meat I could find anything that was grassfed, pasture raised or at least hormone and antibiotic free. What I found surprised me, though I doubt it will surprise anyone else  . My local grocery chain, HEB carries quite a bit along these lines, even in stores that have very few organic products on the shelves. Walmart is falling behind in providing healthy meat choices. No grassfed or pastured choices at all. A little bit of hormone and antibiotic free chicken was pretty much it.

My Main Concern with Conventional Animal Foods

Aside from the outrageously unhealthy and inhumane conditions in which these animals are raised, I am very concerned about the grains they are raised on. At this point most if not all factory farmed animals in the US eat large amounts of GMO corn and GMO soy. When we eat these foods, we are also eating what the animals ate. While all the animal foods at Walmart *looks* pretty much as Granny bought it, it is really a newfangled food. So it’s really important to transition from these compromise foods to real food choices as soon as you can.

With that in mind, let’s have a look at what Walmart offers …

Lots of Variety in Cuts

As you would expect with such a large meat department Walmart has lots of choices when it comes to cuts. All the usual choices can be found with a few unusual cuts thrown in.

Lots of variety in cuts …

I’d be a bit wary of factory farmed liver …

Bones for broth can be hard to find

Walmart has a small stock of bones for broth making. I did find some feet and some oxtail. No soup bone packages though.

Oxtail makes a great broth …

Beef feet might be useful for broth making …

This was a nice surprise! This sausage is made right here in my hometown, Elgin Texas.

Pork neckbones useful for broth making …

Harvestland Chicken

A reader had mentioned in a previous post that she found this brand mixed in with the Tyson chicken at Walmart. I stumbled across it at my Walmart too! I couldn’t find out any specifics on their feed so I’d assume it’s the usual stuff. They do however raise their birds without antibiotics and without cages, so that’s an improvement.

Antibiotic free chicken … Buy this whole and use the bones for broth.

What if my family cannot transition to healthily raised animal foods soon?

If you cannot transition to healthily raised animal foods soon consider reducing your use for awhile. Just how to go about it depends a lot on your individual situation. Family preferences are really going to come in to play when it comes to meat. Consider if you could reduce the amount of meat your family eats and emphasize good cheeses and milk. Serve a few vegetarian dishes and a few more egg based meals. Egg choices at my Walmart aren’t so hot either (more on that next week), but at yours they may be better … I can easily see some regional variation here. Could you eat more bean and grain based dishes? How about skillet meals or casseroles that stretch your meat out?

I’d try to limit this phase to only a few months at most though. In the meantime I would brainstorm any other possible way you can get grassfed beef or lamb, pastured pork and chicken. I realize that for some of my readers this may be a daunting task. After all, this series assumes it’s not possible at all! But if it is possible for you, this is the second step, right after eliminating bad fats in priority in moving to a real food diet. Eating wholesome animal foods is hugely important to you and your families health. This will take some time and planning for many, I know it isn’t something that can be done overnight. My next series will be dealing with transitioning to local food and I hope those who find this difficult will find some help there. For now I’d just try to reduce eating conventional meat at whatever speed your family handles well.

Next week we’ll continue with Walmart’s dairy section …

This post is part of series … Read the rest by following these links

Introduction: Can it be Done?
Part 1: A Quick Tour of Walmart
Part 2: Fruits and Vegetables
Part 3: Fats and Oils
Part 4: Meat and Bones
Part 5: The Dairy Section
Part 6: Pantry Foods
Conclusion: The Nature of Compromise

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Real Food at Walmart – Fats and Oils

My trip to Walmart this week was a little tougher than last week foray into the world of Walmart produce. Healthy fats are a much tougher nut to crack in any grocery store and Walmart is no exception. I did find several good choices though!

Importance of Healthy Fats

My regular readers know how I feel about the priorities to keep in mind while budgeting for a real food diet. If you’re new to real food this is where you should start … healthy fats firstIt is vitally important that you eliminate all rancid, trans-fat laden fats and oils from your diet. It is equally important that you eliminate PUFA’s (Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids) from your home cooking. The human body requires only a small percentage of polyunsaturated fats, and these *must* be of the highest quality and never heated to be of any benefit. Virtually none of the PUFA oils in the grocery store qualify. Only high quality oils kept in dark bottles and kept cool stand a chance. And these must never be used for cooking. Seriously, nothing you can do for your health is more important than avoiding these toxic fats.

What are our choices?

Virtually all of the fats found at Walmart or any other large chain grocery are these PUFA oils. They have been through a high-heat chemical process and are as newfangled as newfangled food can be. They are filled with trans-fats and are already rancid before you buy them. So what are we to do? Luckily there are still a few other options to be found. Walmart has butter, olive oil and coconut oil in stock!

Your family needs plenty of good saturated fats for health, preferably saturated fats with plenty of vitamins A and D. High quality grassfed butter would be an ideal fat for many dishes. Beef tallow and lard are excellent for fried foods. Coconut and palm oils are highly saturated and good for frying. Monounsaturated like olive oil are great for salad dressings and sauteing. With these guidelines in mind let’s look at what Walmart has to offer.

Saturated Fats

Your family is most likely getting some sizable saturated fats from milk, cream, cheese and beef so I think we can safely assume you need to buy saturated fats separately for high heat cooking mostly. And of course you’ll want some butter to flavor dishes with that magical deliciousness only butter has  . Your best options here are the few butter choices offered in the dairy section and the coconut oil in the oil section. I looked for but didn’t find any Kerrygold grassfed butter. They did have some Kerrygold cheese however  . You may have better luck at your Walmart though … I know they have Kerrygold at Sam’s (owned by Walmart) so there’s the potential! A reader told me she found Spectrum Coconut Oil on the shelves and lo and behold, there it was at my Walmart too!

Butter is your best bet for saturated fats …

Hope your Walmart has this too … if so, go for it!

They also had this brand, LouAna Coconut Oil. From doing a little research it looks like this is an inferior brand made from coconut by-products called Copra after removing the best part of the coconut meat. It is then heated up, bleached, refined, deodorized and then processed with lye. What you want instead is an unrefined or refined coconut oil from a quality source. The difference between the two when it comes to coconut oil is the coconuty smell, that for many dishes you may want to avoid. The Spectrum coconut oil at Walmart is labeled refined and Spectrum’s site states it was 100% mechanically expeller pressed They do make an unrefined version too that is available at Amazon.

What about lard?

If you mosey on over to the oils aisle you’ll likely notice some big tubs of lard on the bottom shelf. This lard isn’t pure real lard but a bastardized facsimile of lard. It contains a mix of hydrogenated vegetable oils with hydrogenated lard mixed in :-O. Stay away from this stuff! You can buy lard either online or locally, but you won’t be finding the real thing at Walmart anytime soon.

Don’t go for this one! It’s actually hydrogenated …

Lots of olive oils!

When it comes to olive oils Walmart is well stocked! However, I urge caution and suggest putting any oil you choose to try to the refrigerator testAdulteration of olive oil is very widespread and there is a good chance many of these “extra virgin olive oils” aren’t really extra virgin, or perhaps not olive oil at all. I bought the California Olive Ranch oil and put it to the test. And guess what? It passed! I was thrilled … this is the first olive oil I’ve found that passes the test with flying colors. I’ve tried about six different ones so far.

This is a good choice …

Here you can see the thickening of the oil …

Here’s an organic possibility …

Ordering Online

Walmart offers a slightly larger selection of coconut oils online that are available for free home delivery. If you should find your Walmart has a more limited selection of olive oil, the website has a very large variety. Perhaps mentioning your favorite brand to the grocery manager might lead to them keeping it in stock  .

Also, Amazon has a much wider variety of olive oil, palm oils and coconut oil. Concern about shipping costs might put people off thinking they will need the $80 a year Amazon Prime membership to take advantage of this variety. That isn’t the case though. Almost everything can be found with “Free Super Saver Shipping” with a little bit of searching. “Free Super Saver Shipping” is UPS ground, and so takes a little longer but if you’re stocking the pantry you probably don’t need it quick  . I order quite a few groceries from Amazon myself using this shipping option. 

Next week we’ll move on to the meat section and see what we can find there! In the meantime, tell us about your Walmart finds in the comments below.

This post is part of series … Read the rest by following these links

Introduction: Can it be Done?
Part 1: A Quick Tour of Walmart
Part 2: Fruits and Vegetables
Part 3: Fats and Oils
Part 4: Meat and Bones
Part 5: The Dairy Section
Part 6: Pantry Foods
Conclusion: The Nature of Compromise

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Real Food at Walmart – Fruits and Vegetables

What is the first thing people think of when they decide to start eating healthy? Getting more fruits and vegetables into their daily diet of course! I thought we’d start here for that reason … Also, fruits and veggies at Walmart are pretty easy as long as we are okay with compromise on the issue of organics. We should save some of the harder choices with very limited options for later  … I don’t want to discourage anyone.

What about the issue of organics? Is it wise to compromise on this? Well, considering our premise which is “What if you HAD to buy all your food at Walmart?” based on what I’ve seen you would have no other choice when it comes to produce. Is this compromise unacceptable using our two guideline questions “Would Grandma recognize this as real food? and “Would Sally Fallon consider this compromise unacceptable?”. Grandma would definitely recognize produce as real food conventional or not. Sally Fallon’s take on the issue is to encourage shoppers to buy the best food available to them that they can afford. However, I think if she addressed this issue directly in a new edition she would put GMO conventional crops on her list to “newfangled foods” to completely avoid … what could be more newfangled than GMO?

How Important is Organic Produce?

No one wants to eat food that’s been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides. Organic food offers the promise of chemical free food. It seems pretty black and white, sprayed or not sprayed. Well, the truth is a little more nuanced than that. Many large industrial-scale organic farms spray quite a bit of the pesticides allowed under the USDA organic labeling regulations. While these pesticides are far less toxic than conventional pesticides and that’s good, for that very reason large-scale farmers tend to use lots of them. The organic food suppliers working with Walmart are virtually guaranteed to be these industrial scale farms, just by the scale of demand Walmart food buyers would require. This scale requirement is part of the reason why organic produce is extremely limited at Walmart I’m sure. I went to two different stores and found only carrots, celery, broccoli and green onions fresh and organically grown. I found zero organic frozen produce.

My suggestion is to buy what organic produce you can afford, and then keep the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” lists of conventional produce firmly in mind. Try to reduce or eliminate anything that’s on the dirty dozen and shift the emphasis to the clean fifteen. Also, avoid all conventional produce that is likely to be GMO. Fortunately, that’s easy since very little of conventional produce is GMO.Dr. Mercola has a shopping guide designed to help you avoid GMO’s in the grocery store. In it regarding fruits and vegetables he states:

“Very few fresh fruits and vegetables for sale in the U.S. are genetically modified. Novel products such as seedless watermelons are NOT genetically modified. Small amounts of zucchini, yellow crookneck squash, and sweet corn may be GM. The only commercialized GM fruit is papaya from Hawaii—about half of Hawaii’s papayas are GM.”

In the news you’ll hear about all the new strains of GMO foods being produced. These varieties are at various stages of development, approval and introduction to the food supply which the media might not make clear. Currently there are a handful of GMO crops in the food supply, several of which dominate their crop. We’ll talk more specifically about them in later posts … for now it’s enough to know that you are unlikely to encounter GMO in the grocery store produce section. To be completely sure you can avoid all the produce Dr. Mercola mentions in the quote above. No zucchini, yellow squash, papaya or sweet corn. I only buy these from trusted sources myself.

Don’t Prioritize Fruits and Veggies in your Budget

Fruits and veggies aren’t the most important things in a healthy diet … sacrilege I know. Access to healthy fats is first priority, not veggies! But most people when new to “Real Food” focus in on finding and affording organic produce. This can be very discouraging since organic produce can be sizably more expensive and hard to find to boot. Simply buy whatever produce you enjoy eating and don’t sweat the rest! It isn’t necessary to eat lots of fruits and vegetables to have a healthy diet. Many healthy primitive groups in Dr. Price’s work ate little in the way of vegetables and fruits and Sally has joked that vegetables are great as a vehicle for lots of butter  . In all probably you’ll still be eating far more fruits and veggies than most folks without effort just for variety in your meals.

For those with tight budgets I’d recommend buying frozen veggies for cooking and fresh vegetables for fermenting. In general you’ll find the frozen version less expensive and about the same in nutritive value. Most grocery store produce has had a long journey to reach you and fresh produce rapidly loses nutrition after harvesting leaving grocery fresh produce with about the same vitamin levels as frozen. Some things taste more bitter after freezing I find, like broccoli for instance, so use your judgement here.

A small sample of some conventional choices …

These are on the dirty dozen list …

… and these are NOT on the dirty dozen list.

Sea Salt was available at this store for your ferments. This could also be ordered online …

Ordering Online

For obvious reasons Walmart doesn’t offer online ordering of produce. They do however have a number of their frozen and fresh produce items available for viewing on their website. How could this help? If you see something online you like that isn’t at your store it’s possible the manager could request that it be added to their regular inventory. They can also tell you online whether it is or isn’t a regular item at your store. Can’t hurt to ask for it to be included!

What’s your experience at your store? Do you find more or less variety? How about organics? Tell us about your store in the comments below.

This post is part of series … Read the rest by following these links

Introduction: Can it be Done?
Part 1: A Quick Tour of Walmart
Part 2: Fruits and Vegetables
Part 3: Fats and Oils
Part 4: Meat and Bones
Part 5: The Dairy Section
Part 6: Pantry Foods
Conclusion: The Nature of Compromise

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Real Food at Walmart – A Quick Tour

Two weeks ago in my post Real Food at Walmart – Can it be done I posed the question: What if you had to buy all your food at Walmart? Pretend you didn’t have access to any local food or health food stores at all … how close could you get to a 100% “Real Food” diet under those circumstances?

This week I took a little tour of my local Walmart very early in the morning when I could have the food aisles mostly to myself  . With my camera in hand I took a bunch of pictures of what I found that would qualify as real food. I used the question “Would Grandma recognize this as real food?” as my primary guiding question. Next, I considered whether Sally Fallon would consider it a real or compromise food. I left out anything I felt she would view as a “must avoid” item, though I’m including some items that are newfangled on her list in Nourishing Traditions like pasteurized dairy and some sugars.I’ll make note of any newfangled industrial foods so that you can make an extra effort to eliminate them first when the opportunity arises. It’s important to keep in mind while making dietary choices that involve compromise that there are consequences for every compromise. So we want to continually work toward improvement without stressing ourselves out!

I’m hoping we can have a lively discussion this week on the items shown, and in the coming weeks I will revisit the store section by section and we can talk about each category in detail. Hopefully with everyone’s input we can further expand the choices!

Lots of pictures in this post! The captions tell the tale  . I think we’ll start with what is most easily located and work our way down to the difficult to find.

What’s easy to find at Walmart

Lots of variety in the frozen food section … Abundant choices in frozen greens. Kale, collards, spinach, turnip greens, etc …

Package after package displays a simple ingredient list like this one.

Grains are pretty easy to find if you are looking for the standard issue whole wheat flours, oats and rice.

Lots of rice both brown and white varieties …

Rolled Oats …

Whole grain flours …

Beans are easy to find, though there isn’t as wide a variety as can be found elsewhere.

Lots of legumes …

Pretty good versions of kids favorites PB & J can be had.

A few peanut butter choices shown here, but there were more.

A few low sugar jelly choices …

What’s not as difficult to find as you might imagine

In a word, organics! There are quite a few organic labels to be seen at Walmart, though not nearly enough. Organic produce, even in Austin where the local Walmart is to some degree competing with the organic mecca grocery stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts, HEB Central Market little can be found in the way of fresh organic produce. I was more successful finding processed products that were labeled organic.

Muir Glen is well represented on the shelves at Walmart … good prices too!

Saw quite a bit of the Newman’s Own label too …

Organic pre-made Spaghetti Sauces …

Somewhat difficult to find wholesome version of

Good fats seems to be the hardest thing to find in a Walmart! Since it’s the single most important improvement you can make to your diet I plan to make a very exhaustive survey of everything available.

Don’t go for this one! It’s actually hydrogenated …

Butter choices are limited but they are there …

Largish olive oil section, approach with caution … much of the olive oil on the market isn’t really olive oil at all.

Lots of meat available though it looks like virtually all of it is CAFO beef and factory farmed chicken and pork.

Bacon ends for pots of greens, lots of bacon in general …

Organ meats can be found …

Chicken Liver

Beef Liver

Found a section with some unusual cuts …

Cheek meat … pretty inexpensive.

and tripe, or small intestines …

Found some dairy items, though everything is pasteurized. Had better luck here than at the health food mecca stores finding dairy that had not been ultra-pasteurized though. Most organic dairy is ultra-pasteurized so those stores tend to stock it heavily.

Ok, so now that we’ve had a tour what comes next?

Next post we’ll start with a particular food group and work our way thru the store winnowing out bad choices and working our way toward the best possible choices in the store, or available thru a special order from Walmart’s website for that particular food group. I will take note of any items for people on special diets like a gluten-free diet. In the meantime tell me what you thought of this tour … did I overlook something? Is there something you’ve found in your store that you could share? What compromises would you make?

This post is part of series … Read the rest by following these links

Introduction: Can it be Done?
Part 1: A Quick Tour of Walmart
Part 2: Fruits and Vegetables
Part 3: Fats and Oils
Part 4: Meat and Bones
Part 5: The Dairy Section
Part 6: Pantry Foods
Conclusion: The Nature of Compromise

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