A few years back I heard Marion Nestle speak at a conference and I was intrigued at her research on food politics and how the food industry invests money to manipulate us to buy their products, without us even knowing they are doing so.
She discussed certain rules that govern supermarkets:
- They put the produce or flowers first to entice you into the store.
- They expose products as much as possible (aisles, special displays, etc.). The more products you see, the more you will buy.
- They put high profit items at eye level. Processed junk foods that are nutritionally depleted are highly profitable.
- They use sugars to add value to foods such as large containers of soft drinks.
- Manufacturers use the words “nutrition” and “health” to sell foods.
I started to notice all the distractions of pretty processed foods full of color and intrigue. The more I noticed the more I realized how most Americans are influenced unknowingly by these tricks.
So how can you as a consumer navigate the waters of the grocery store?
- You’ve heard this before but shop the perimeter of the store as much as possible.
- Stick to fresh whole foods, preferably without a label and if something does have a label try to limit the number ingredients to less than five.
- Make a list before going to the store and stick to it. You may have to put on blinders to get past all the processed foods.
- Don’t be fooled by the labels on the front such as “lowers cholesterol.”
It is possible to get in and out of grocery store without being submarined. You just have to stick to what you need and then go on autopilot.
Remember the food industry is not going to send you a get-well card if you have a health issue. Give a message to the food industry and take control of your health with how you spend your dollars at the market.