My husband likes to tell me I’m a food snob. I like to tell him that’s a lot better than my being a car snob. Or a jewelry snob. And I also remind him that being married to a food snob (who, ahem, drives a seven-year-old Toyota) works out pretty well for him, especially since I don’t do all my shopping at Whole
I do buy a few things there though. These are usually the things that I don’t feel comfortable buying at the “regular” grocery store for one reason or another. While the selection of organic foods has grown at places like Safeway, Albertson’s, and King Soopers, these stores still don’t offer “clean” versions of some of our family staples. So, alas, I have two grocery lists, one for the supermarket and one for Whole Foods (actually three if you count my monthly trip to Trader Joe’s for salt & pepper grinders, organic olive oil, and random things like frozen superfood pilaf and giant bars of 70% cacao dark chocolate). I don’t love Sprouts (formerly Sunflower Market here), because I think their produce is pretty bad, but if you like it, this list probably works there as well.
So, here’s what I generally buy at Whole Foods:
Milk: What applies to cheese also applies to milk and yogurt. If I’m at Whole Foods and low on milk, I buy it there. But my King Soopers also sells organic milk and some yogurt (although WF has a better selection). The easiest way to avoid hormones and antibiotics in your milk (along with pesticide residue) is to buy all organic dairy products.
Processed Meats: I’d like to say we never buy these things. Because they are, obviously, processed, and I try to avoid processed food as much as possible. But, with two kids needing a sack lunch every day (they hate the school lunch and it’s really expensive), I need to be able to make sandwiches. Plus, chicken breakfast sausage provides a good dose of protein for my egg-averse kids. So when I do buy these, I try to always get organic and nitrate-free brands, which are always available at Whole Foods.
Taco Shells: Yes, I’m copping to buying another processed food. I spent years feeding my kids tacos made fajita style with soft corn tortillas, and I was always irritated by how unenthusiastically they ate them. Then once we had hard-shell tacos, and the kids inhaled them. (I’ll share my recipe for real-food tacos in a future post.) If your family has taco night, consider buying organic taco shells (and all corn products, such as tortilla chips) because corn is one of the highest GMO crops in the U.S. (Check out this stat: By 2012, 88 percent of corn (maize) and 94 percent of soy grown in the United States were genetically modified, according to the US Department of Agriculture.) Since it’s not clear whether GMOs are safe, I try to avoid them.
Refried Beans: My real-food taco recipe calls for refried beans. I could suggest you never buy these and instead soak dry beans overnight, cook them, and then re-fry them — but I suspect I might lose some dear readers that way. But since I try to avoid buying too many canned foods (due to the BPA in most can liners), I love Pacific brand organic refried beans, which are in a box. BPA is synthetic estrogen, by the way.
Tamari: Some larger stores have this in the Asian section. I prefer it to regular soy sauce, plus it’s lower in sodium and they have a gluten-free option.
Sumo Tangerines: If you see these in a store, any store, buy them. They are incredible — easy to peel and truly delicious. Plus, they’re so big that one will fill me up for a while. So far, I’ve only seen them at Whole Foods, and only in the winter, so hurry.
Olive Oil: We go through a lot of this, and weirdly, I buy it at WF (if I’m between trips to TJ’s) because it’s a good deal. Their 365 Brand olive oil comes in large bottles and is consistently less expensive than comparable brands at the regular grocery store. Go figure.
Specialty Items: Now it’s time to fess up: I think it’s fun to go to Whole Foods. I love to check out all the artisan cheeses and insanely expensive jars of quince paste. I love testing their organic hand lotions and sampling the newest hemp ice cream. Occasionally, I buy one of these items, and sometimes they turn out to be family staples. Included for our family are: Hope Habanero Lentil Dip (yum!), Green & Black Chocolate (alas not pictured because, Lent), and organic unsweetened Shredded Coconut.
What foods do you make a special trip for?