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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shopping tips, and the concept of "Degrees of Preparation"...

I want to thank you for reading and following this blog, and for your emails and comments.  Today was shopping day, and because I know you are out there, I shopped a little differently than usual.  I followed my own advice that I have offered so many times a little closer: Only shop the perimeter of the store.  I usually do, but this time I was extra conscious of it.

If you aren't familiar with this tidbit of wisdom, it's one way to keep your diet on a healthy track.  Nearly every grocery store is arranged so that the actual ingredients circle the edges of the store, and the packaged, processed, frozen and generally less healthful stuff is in the middle.

By shopping only the peripheral, your basket will have produce, meats, dairy and breads. I do venture into the middle to find the bulk aisle, and a few canned items (mostly tomato products), but for the most part, the less processed the food, the healthier it is for you.

I must give my dear friend Jody Gnant credit for coining the phrase "Degrees of Preparation" with me.  We were hanging out in Houston after a flash mob we were part of, and talking about stuff.  The topic of food came up, and I was telling her about my garden (in the works)... and we realized that the more times a food is processed, the worse it gets for you.

Consider fast food, and the steps it takes to become a "hamburger." I put that in quotes because if you are at all aware of the process, you know that there is a point that the meat they are serving, for the sake of sanitation, was actually sterilized in ammonia, stripping it of all germs and bacteria.  However, along with e-coli, the ammonia also washes away all color, flavor, aroma and nutrition, which is then added back in the form of dyes, perfumes, additives and texturing agents.  The same is true about the processing of the bread and cheese.  Not to mention the cheapest condiments on the market made from a base of corn syrup.

At home, the same components put together reflects far fewer degrees of preparation.  If you are conscious of what you buy, the meat will actually be  fresh ground, with all of its nutrients intact, the bread will be baked from  whole ingredients, the cheese will be simply enzyme treated milk left to age, and the condiments will be vegetable based (except ketchup, since we all know tomatoes are fruit).

Keep this in mind when you are shopping.  Approach the store as you would a Nascar track... round and round the outside, with an occasional, brief pit-stop in the middle for a few processed things (read your labels!!!)  Keeping your Degrees of Preparation to a minimum will keep the nutrients in your food, and your body will thank you for it.

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