About Lynn

lynn jaffeeLynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health, a clear and concise explanation of Chinese medicine for the lay person. She is co-author of the book, The BodyWise Woman, a personal health manual for physically active women and girls. Read more about Lynn...

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Names and identifying details have been changed on any person described in these posts to protect their identity.

The Grocery Store Dilemma

Going to the grocery store makes me crabby.  Not just any grocery store, but the big-box, save a bunch, 30-aisle grocery store.  The last time I went to one of those huge grocery stores, my husband and I drove a little bit out of our way to go to a really nice one.  No matter—by the time we were loading the bags into the car, I was really irritated.

Most of the time, I can get through about half of the big store before I start to melt down and have to leave.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was pissing me off, and I just chalked it up to not wanting to grocery shop.

Driving away from big store shopping trip a couple of weeks ago, a light bulb went on.  I was annoyed as usual, but I realized that the very nature of the big store and what it represented was the issue.

The big store is about abundance—aisles and aisles—of processed, packaged, preservative-laden, pesticide-sprayed food.  Oh yes, there is a small section of organic produce, but the cost of any of those items is four to five times the cost of the conventional foods. 

The point behind my discontent is that what our food supply has become does not support good health.  Until a couple of hundred years ago, what we ate was locally grown, and foods on the plate were pretty close to what came out of the ground or the pasture.  Bread contained the whole grains, meat didn’t contain antibiotics, and produce was local and pesticide-free.

In Chinese medicine, practitioners always look to the source of a patient’s problem.  This means that healing is not just symptom relief, but finding and resolving what is actually causing the problem. 

On public radio the other day, a commentator was speaking about the current health plan on the table, and how much it will cost to treat diseases, such as the diabetes epidemic, heart disease, and obesity.  I believe that what our food has become is one of the sources of our health care problem. The average American is eating food that does not sustain good health, and in fact contributes to many of the diseases that occurring in epidemic proportions.

 So the dilemma is this:  Do you buy what’s affordable and easy or spend more in time and money to buy and prepare healthy foods for yourself and your family?

There’s no good answer, but some ways to balance healthy eating with your pocketbook include:

-Grow your own.  Even if your space is limited, it’s possible to grow lettuce, greens, tomatoes, peppers, beans, and even squash in pots or a small garden space.

-Shop at your local farmer’s market.  Many of the booths offer not only locally grown, but organic foods.

-Decide which foods are most important to buy organically. Check out the list of the Dirty Dozen, the fruits and veggies that are grown with the most pesticides.  Those are the ones worth splurging on to buy organically.

-Think about joining a Community Sponsored Agricultural organization, (CSA).  Joining a CSA is a way of making a commitment to a local organic farmer to buy a share of his or her produce for the season.  For more information, go here.

-Check out your local food coop.  Their prices for organic foods are generally a little more reasonable.  Also, you’ll have a better selection and the foods are locally grown when possible.

-Ask your big store manager to carry healthier foods, like organic produce, grass fed beef, eggs from cage-free chickens, and hormone-free dairy products.

The Chinese have a saying that you should first treat ill-health with food therapy.  If that doesn’t work, then you should turn to acupuncture and herbs.  This applies to our national health, as well—let’s first try to fix it by making good food available to everyone at a reasonable cost.

More ideas?  Post a comment.

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