Is Your Shopping Cart Filled With Empty Calories?

I stopped into a store the other day I normally don't frequent, but my Mother asked me to pick something up for her. Since I was just getting the one item, I made my way over to the "20 Items or Less, Express Lane."

I watched the woman in front of me unload her cart:
  • 2 gallons of milk
  • 2 jumbo packages of hot dogs
  • large box of frozen whitefish
  • large box of frozen hamburger patties
  • 2 bags of vinegar & salt potato chips
  • 1 head of iceberg lettuce
  • 2 cucumbers
  • large bottle of salad dressing
  • box of Velveeta cheese
  • loaf of bread
  • bag of M&M's
  • box of Dulcolax
  • large bottle of Maalox
The irony of the box of laxatives and bottle of antacids wasn't lost on me. But when the clerk announced the grand total of said shopping cart - $103.26 - my jaw dropped. Something to the tune of Are you freaking kidding me? rang through my head. The constipated woman with indigestion didn't bat an eyelash, however, and handed over her credit card to the cashier.

Listen, I don't want to look down my nose at this woman. It wasn't all that long ago when my own vegetable consumption was coming from French fries, potato chips, and iceberg lettuce. I had such killer heartburn that I popped Tums like M&M's. I was the reigning Queen of Processed Foods.

But since transitioning to a diet of primarily raw, living food, the question I keep hearing from people is, Ooooh, isn't it expensive to eat that way? And my answer is an emphatic, Nope. That's a fallacy. Although I had never done a concrete comparison, I just knew that I was spending considerably less, as opposed to when I was accumulating frequent flyer miles at the local drive-thru windows.

Chances are pretty good though that if you're cash conscious and on a budget (and who isn't these days?), you're going to opt for junk food that gives you the most calorie bang for your buck (albeit, empty calories). You're more likely to buy potato chips than carrot sticks.

What people are really buying when they purchase processed foods is convenience: longer shelf life, ease of preparation, greater availability. But, they're also paying more for all of that processing and convenience.

Anyways, I decided to do a little comparison shopping for myself. I've been averaging roughly $40 a week, shopping at local farmer's markets all summer, but I decided to go into a grocery store and see what $103.26 could buy me.

Have a peak inside my cart:
  • 2 heads of red leaf lettuce
  • 1 head of bok choy
  • 1 head of purple cabbage
  • 2 heads of kale
  • 2 heads of rainbow chard
  • 2 lb mesclun mix
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 2 lb green beans
  • 2 lb bell peppers
  • 2 bunches parsley
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 12 English cucumbers
  • 3 avocados
  • 2 lb onions
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • large ginger root
  • 12 lemons
  • 5 lb apples
  • 5 lb bananas
  • 2 large cantaloupe
  • jar of raw tahini
  • jar of raw honey
  • 8 oz raw almonds
  • bag of dried cranberries
Grand total: $102.07, so I even saved $1.19 as compared to my friend with the indigestion.

I have to admit, I was a bit taken aback by the cost of fresh produce in the grocery store, compared to what I've been paying at the farm stands all summer. The quality of the stuff that's picked green and shipped cross country can't be compared to fresh, vine-ripened produce either. Sadly, the growing season is coming to an abrupt end here and with it the farm stands, so I suspect my $40 a week produce bill is soon to double.

Nonetheless, since taking up residence in the Land of Raw Foods and relinquishing my title as the Queen of Processed Food, the state of my health has increased, and contrary to popular belief, my food budget has decreased.

Take the sage advice of Michael Pollan to heart: Eat food, Not too much. Mostly plants.

What's in your shopping cart this week?



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