My coffee post, and this article by Marion Nestle about the 2010 Dietary Guidelines released by the FDA yesterday, have me thinking about groceries.
Anyone who has read this blog for a while must know, I’m a big believer in buying real food, preferably from people you know. We buy a pig and a lamb every year (although I’m pretty sure Himself doesn’t love lamb the way I do). People give us gifts of elk and antelope and home-raised beef on occasion. I have a garden and chickens for eggs.
But I guess one of the reasons I wanted to blog about my weird affection for Maxwell House French Roast coffee is that the whole food thing gets so unbearably precious. I could spend more money for coffee that isn’t grown and packaged by a conglomerate, but this coffee works for me. I don’t need to feel smug about my coffee or about its pedigree. It’s coffee. There’s nothing else in it — and I can even justify the plastic packaging because Himself reuses it. There are other “regular” groceries I still buy — Triscuits and Stoned Wheat Thins come to mind. Herdez salsas. Tilamook cheese. English tea. Citrus in winter. Pasta — mostly Barilla and DeCecco. The occasional hot dog and sliced ham from the deli counter for sandwiches. Frozen veggies sometimes — I like them for throwing into a soup or a pasta at the last minute.
Reading the Marion Nestle piece though it became clear that my lifelong tendency to avoid those center aisles — the ones where the mixes and prepared foods and the frozen dinners are — it became clear that even though I might buy commercial coffee, I’m still not really shopping like a “regular” American. Look at her discussion of sodium levels. If you’re cooking your own food, “from scratch” (see here for my hatred of that phrase) the sodium thing isn’t going to be a huge problem. However, one of the primary preservatives in most processed food is salt, and hence, if you’re eating a lot of food out of boxes, or frozen stuff, or even those prepared meals from the back of the store, then the sodium thing is going to be a huge issue.
Which brings me back around to one of my perennial questions: what “regular” foods do you buy at the store? Are there things you buy that you’d like to find a substitution for, but just haven’t managed to? Are there things you buy that you know aren’t great for you but you love anyway? Do these fall into the “treat” category or into the “must-have” category?