Why All Health Food Stores Aren’t Created Equal

So many Health Food Store Options!

Trader Joe’s, Harris Teeter, Fresh Market, Hannaford – These are a few of the health food stores you might consider safe places to shop for healthy foods.  All of them do sell fresh, organic, whole foods, but this does not mean that it’s all you’ll find on their shelves. 

While health food stores are generally more knowledgeable about the dangers of pesticides, artificial ingredients/colors, HFCS, and preservatives, they still may use outsourcing to trim their bottom-line, which in turn, puts your health at risk.  When a company uses outsourcing to meet production needs, they lose some control as to what actually goes into their products.

Of course, there are exceptions.  Take Whole Foods Market for example.  According to Stream Organic, they state that Whole Foods does their “homework” for their shoppers, by giving them the peace of mind that their food is free of artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, preservatives, and hydrogenated fats. Whole Foods is the largest retailer of natural and organic foods and America’s First National Certified Organic Grocer. wikipedia

What’s safe?

You may be asking, “Well… how do I know what’s safe and what’s not?  The short answer: read the ingredients label.  However, even the ingredients won’t list genetically modified organisms that may be lurking inside of that can of green beans in your hand.  And, unfortunately we don’t have GMO food labels… yet. 

The best way to be absolutely sure you are receiving the highest quality foods is to shop at a grocer who sets high standards for their manufacturers.  Even better, find a health food store that only buys non-GMO, organic, whole foods from local farmers.  This puts your mind at ease, and supports your local community.  It also reduces the emission of carbon dioxide into the air from transport vehicles.

I understand that many of you may not have a Whole Foods Market in your neighborhood, or even within a 50-mile radius.  Instead, I ask you to do a little research.  Today, make a list of the grocery stores that are in your area.  Look for their website and find out if they have quality standards for the companies from which they buy their food. 

If you can find out the names of their biggest producers, you can contact them directly to see what non-GMO, organic options they provide.  Sound like a lot of work?  Unfortunately, the USDA has not made it easy for Americans to locate healthy foods.  They’ve deemed many ingredients safe for consumption that have been proven to cause health problems.

Produce Markets

Another option is to find a fresh produce/farm market in your city.  Produce markets often allow you the opportunity to speak with the farmers directly, asking them questions about the seeds they use, and whether or not they use pesticides.  Produce from farmer’s markets are also the most nutritionally dense, being that they travel minimal distances to get to you.

The Dirty Dozen

If you aren’t able to buy all organic foods (due to budget or availability), remember that these 12 foods have been shown to contain the highest amount of pesticide residue and should only be bought in their organic form.

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet bell peppers
  8. Nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Potatoes
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Hot peppers

Where have you found the best quality foods in your area?  Please give us your location, and favorite health food store.

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