Maneuvering Through The Minefield of Your Supermarket Aisles

Are you aware of all the dangers you face as you go down the aisles of your local supermarket? It is truly a mine field and you have to be knowledgeable, when you reach for an item to put into your shopping cart. I patronize Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s which lowers the risk a bit, but Eternal Vigilance is the key word. I would not buy super market eggs or meat, because I am aware of the dangers of factory farming. It is referred to as CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). These animals are fed pesticide laden grains and are given antibiotics to keep them alive, until they are slaughtered. How can unhealthy animals provide the vital nourishment you need?

Are you aware that our government doesn’t have the resources to inspect more than 1% of the foods that are coming in from foreign markets? Foods that are coming in from China, India, South America, the Philippines, etc., could possibly harbor dangerous pathogens, because they have been processed in unsanitary plants. Also, many of the processing plants in the United States are not inspected regularly. Eating Certified Organic is one way to make sure your food has been inspected and eating local foods would take much of the risk away; so support your local farmer’s markets.

April 18, 2011 issue of Time Magazine covered this information in their business section. 60% Percentage of fresh fruits and vegetables that are imported. 80% Percentage of seafood imported, 1% Percentage of imported food that the FDA examines. Major cases of foreign-food contamination: 1997 Mexican strawberries with hepatitis A; 1997 Guatemalan raspberries with cyclosporine; 2000, 2001, 2002 Mexican cantaloupes with salmonella; 2003 Mexican green onions with hepatitis A; 2008 Mexican Serrano and jalapeno peppers with salmonella; and 48 million (nearly 1 in 6) people getfood borne illnesses annually; 3000 die. Probably these figures are low, because many are unaware that their health problems are caused by unsanitary food; so their information is not entered into this data base.

In January, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act, potentially the most sweeping overhaul of the Nation’s food-safety system in nearly three-quarters of a century. Much of the new law will deal with domestically-grown food, which accounts for much of what Americans eat. But one of the most intriguing effects of the law will be the launch of a massive effort to inspect the increasing amounts of imported goods. Can the FDA police the world? Its foreign mandate will be difficult to execute, mainly because globilization has sharply broadened the American palate. Items like Chipotle Sauce, couscous and coconut milk are no longer placed in the imported food aisle.

Two potential barriers to the Food Safety Modernization Act’s implementation are politics and money. This legislation would spend $1.4 billion to inspect a growing number of food sources; and this still may not be enough. The FDA regulates more than $460 billion worth of food and about 25 cents of every consumer dollar spent. It has opened offices in Guangzhou (China), Mumbai (India), Mexico City, San Jose (Costa Rica), Santiago (Chile), Brussels (Belgium), London, New Delhi, Shanghai and Bangladeshi. This new law will be costly to implement, if the FDA’s budget were trimmed. The FDA plans on hiring hundreds of staffers to inspect thousands of overseas food facilities in the coming years.

Continuing our walk through the supermarket, another section I avoid is the cold drinks and beverages. These are usually loaded with additives and sugar. People need to read the list of ingredients to make sure that they are not paying for a very unhealthy drink. Also, be aware of the expiration date on the foods that you are buying. I buy triple-washed organic spinach, pineapple and carrot juice. I check the dates to make sure that they still have value. I am aware that making one’s own fresh carrot juice is better, but our refrigerator is not large enough to accommodate more than one days supply of carrots – and I don’t want to go to the market every day.

In a previous blog, I wrote about carrageenan, which is in many foods. If you see this additive, don’t buy the food. It will be setting you up for intestinal tract problems. It may come from seaweed, but solvents are used in processing it, which aren’t harmless. Also, another item, which is difficult to avoid, if you eat dairy…Vitamin D2. It is a synthetic source of Vitamin D. which is not beneficial. We need D3 (cholecalciferol) per Dr. Mercola and other nutritionists. I use Dr. Mercola’s Vitamin D3 Spray. I also eat sardines and wild Pacific salmon, which contain Vitamin D. I would avoid Atlantic salmon and farm raised salmon. (The sun is still the best source of Vitamin D, but avoid sunscreen, if you want your body to produce Vitamin D).

The main aisles contain the canned goods, Most of which contain high amounts of sodium. The food manufacturers have set a food standard of 2000 mg of sodium, so the consumer will buy more processed food. However, I was taught years ago that our actual requirement was less than 500 mg. If you reach for a can of soup note that it could contain 950 mg of sodium. Why wait until your doctor tells you to avoid excess sodium, because you are facing heart disease. Avoid high sodium-laced foods now. If you calculated all the sodium you are consuming daily in your processed foods…you would realize where your sodium habit is taking you.

Canned products that are half-way decent: Brunswick Sardines packed in spring water, no salt added; whole Foods 365 Albacore Tuna in spring water; and Trader Joe’s Canned Coconut Milk. I have searched for other foods, but these are the only ones I have been guided to buy. Heat-processed fruits and vegetables have had their enzymes destroyed. There is little value in eating these foods.

Bread, cookies and other baked goods (most of which) contain gluten, offer you empty calories – and to those who are gluten-sensitive, the problems could be life-threatening. You need to seek out substitutes, which would not be as health-destroying. I buy Trader Joe’s plain round Sour Dough Loaf for my daughter. She eats very little – and we give most of the loaf away. It has very few ingredients. The fewer the ingredients the better it is.

Be aware and avoid Genetically-modified foods:: Hawaiian papaya, alfalfa, sugar beets, crookneck squash, corn, soy, potatoes, tomatoes, canola oil and cottonseed oil. These foods have been altered in such a way that they can reap havoc in your intestines and set you up for future problems. Also, GMO corn fed animals are experiencing health problems and eating them will affect your body. Buy Certified Organic grass-grazed meat, if you want to stay well. I am aware that this type of food can be tough on the budget, but ill health takes both a financial and physical toll.

There is another problem with beef and other meat products that has just surfaced. There is a special meat glue that is being used to glue less desirable pieces of meat together – and pass it off as Prime. This glue was invented by the same outfit, Ajinomoto in Japan that manufactured aspartame. It is called transglutaminase and it‘s produced through the cultivation of bacteria or made from the blood plasma of cows and pigs, specifically the coagulant that makes blood clot. The producers of this glue are so proficient in using it that even expert butchers can‘t see a seam. It is being used in fish products, such as, fish balls, chicken, imitation crab meat, processed meats, pork and ham. According to their website, transglutaminase is also used to “improve the general texture” of a variety of foods aside from meat, such as, fat-free yogurt and cheese. Aside from the fact that gluing together scraps of food, which is a scam, there’s an increased risk of contracting food poisoning from these meats and products. For more information:


While shopping avoid these additives, if at all possible:

* aspartame

* acesulfame-K


* caramel coloring

* carrageen an

* dextrose

* Food Coloring: blue, green, red, yellow

* fructose

* heated honey

* high fructose corn syrup

* hydrogenated-fat

* monosodium glutamate (MSG)

* Nutrasweet

* oils: corn, cottonseed, palm, peanut, safflower, soy

* olestra

* potassium bromate

* propyl gallate

* sodium bisulfite

* sodium chloride

* sodium nitrate & sodium nitrite

* soy protein isolate

* Splenda

* sugar: white & brown

* trans-fats

There is nothing on this list that will benefit you health-wise. All of the above will affect your health adversely. When you see them listed in processed foods, avoid.

Perhaps, you can see why the aisles of your supermarket are so dangerous to maneuver. The products sitting on the shelves were designed to tempt your taste buds. There are very few products that will benefit your health; except in the produce department. A number of food manufacturers put additives in their food to tempt you to eat more. I have the same problem as everyone else, I like to eat, but I don’t eat one potato chip. I could never stop with one…and I could do a lot of damage by eating the whole bag.

If you are health-oriented, avoid the temptation of eating food products that weren’t designed with your health in mind. Be very wary as you navigate the aisles of your market, even if you are shopping at markets, such as, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Not all of their foods are totally beneficial. However, they do have foods that you can’t buy elsewhere and we all need to eat. I recommend shopping at your local farmer’s market, too Their produce is considerably fresher, tastier and more reasonably priced. Good luck to you as you wend your way through your market aisles. I hope that I have given you food for thought…which will help bring you better health by avoiding the aforementioned pitfalls.

Healthfully Yours,

Barbara Charis

P.S. I would like to thank those who are leaving comments on my blog. I would appreciate it, if your comments were specific to the subject matter in the “post.” If you can add beneficial information and make it brief, I would be happy to post your comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *