It was recently uttered by a big food store CEO that farmer’s markets could threaten our health. In his words “…one day they’re going to kill some people though.” This caused outrage and rightly so. How better to know the source of your food than to buy it from the person who grew it? In our supermarkets the best you can know is what country it came from. Mexico, for instance. A lot of vegetables come from Mexico. But where in Mexico? What part of the country? What farm in that part of the country? Did they use pesticides? How can you even find out? The workers in the grocery stores here don’t know.
Where ever the food comes from, whether Mexico or California or elsewhere, it may be perfectly fine but how many hands did it take to get it to your store shelves? What were the storage conditions and the shipping conditions? Who can you ask? At the Farmer’s Market, you know who to ask.
Packaging can also be misleading. Just because a product says “Product of Canada” doesn’t have to mean anything more than it was put in that bag in Canada. The actual item may have come from somewhere else. We’ve heard this before with all sorts of things like clothing for instance.
I wonder if the CEO got it backwards. Recent tainted meat scares and veggies with salmonella from central depots were very real and in the case of the meat, killed 23 people. Add to it that when food is bad, whether literally tainted or some of it is just over ripe, it’s likely that a lot of perfectly fine food gets tossed out too as a precaution because the size of the distributor is so large, it is just more “efficient” to toss all of it.
Some other oddities have been catching my eyes as well when I shop at one of the big stores in town. Yes I’ll admit it. I don’t buy everything at my local farmer’s market.
Grocery store shelves have all sorts of vegetables in plastic bags now but one that really caught me eye was this one: oranges individually wrapped in plastic.
I saw them. Did a bit of a double-take and thought “but they come pre-wrapped as it is!” Nice orange, dimply skin that you peel back to reveal juicy fruit. You’ve seen them. I know you have! But have you seen them like this?
We’re destroying land and water to get fossil fuels and they are using it to wrap fruit that is already wrapped? Where is the logic in that? Does it affect how they ripen? Have they sprayed anything inside the bags? How will the oranges compost if they are not eaten?
What will happen to the little plastic wrapping after taking the orange out of it?
Natural Foods aisles
Now you’d think I’d be happy about this next one, and I am…I guess.
But these signs hang over only two aisles. To be fair, the store does have the organic fruits and veggies in the veggies section but as for the rest of the store….if only these two aisles are ‘natural foods’ what’s in all the rest of the aisles?!
Last one for today:
Vegetable Grain Fed Chickens: what’s a vegetable grain? I thought vegetables were vegetables and grains were grains. I tried to find out about vegetable grains a while ago. I googled it. I even emailed a poultry farmer. They never responded.
I thought I’d take another crack at it before writing this and called another poultry producer. I talked to a really nice woman who said it’s corn, soybean and wheat. This particular company is in Quebec and when I asked about the name she speculated that the name on their product had likely come from the French word “végétale” (essentially meaning plant) and they are just using it switched over for the English translation of the ingredients. She said something to the effect that it’s not completely accurate and may be changed. That sounds okay, they’re a French company and words do get interchanged.
The thing I still wonder about is the companies that are in English-speaking Canada who are using it on their packaging. Did it really originate from a French word and they haven’t translated it? Or are they being creative in how they call their ingredients? Why not just say ‘corn, soybean, wheat’?
One more thing though is that “vegetable grain” is on the label like it’s a great fact. I’ve seen it on not just chicken meat packages, for example, but also egg cartons. I’ve also seen “100% vegetarian” on egg cartons even from free run chickens from large producers.
But chickens aren’t vegetarians. They’re meat eaters, omnivores. Are they telling us that the chickens aren’t eating other chickens or cows? That’s good. But they should be scratching for bugs, etc, because a diet that includes bugs makes their eggs very healthy and great for cooking. It’s probably good for the health of the chicken that unfortunately ends up on a plate, too.
Free range chickens that get to scratch in healthy dirt produce nutritionally better eggs than chickens raised in battery cages that are stacked many rows high. Mother Earth News tested pastured chicken eggs against battery chicken eggs and the results are stunning. They say that comparing to:
official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:
• 1⁄3 less cholesterol
• 1⁄4 less saturated fat
• 2⁄3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene
I think this is another example of small is better. Chickens getting to be chickens on the ground. Even with the large producers of free run eggs, I wonder if those chickens are truly scratching in healthy dirt when they’re always inside and with hundreds of other chickens. For me, it’s hard to imagine how they could. I am thankful for those eggs as an option to battery chicken eggs when I can’t get to the farmer’s market. But I have seen small farmers who move their chickens around their property so they get new dirt that’s had time to heal from previous times of use and been rejuvenated naturally by other types of use and those are the eggs I prefer.
That’s it for now in Grocery Store Oddities!
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