From Costco to Whole Foods: Finding Healthy Food in America

Living on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia, we are fortunate to have several farmer’s markets and organic food shops and butchers very close to our home. So when we are traveling, it is always a challenge and adventure to find good quality food in our new destinations. We especially love food treasure hunting when we visit the other land of plenty: America.

Cheap alcohol at Walmart checkout

Though we have lived in America and visited many times, we are always amazed with how much has changed in the food scene every time we visit. Our latest visit to Arizona, where we spent time with family, was no different. The demand for healthy food has continued to increase and suppliers are answering the demand with organic cafes, endless aisles of “healthy” packaged foods, and a continuing decrease in the price of organic whole foods (meats and veg). We found a huge variety of healthy food at reasonable prices, plenty of cheap and seductive junk food, and an increasing amount of fake food marketed as healthy.

Of course, the food in Arizona can not represent the whole diverse country of America. However, chain stores like Costco, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Natural Grocers are in many of the states of America and therefore may provide a true peek into what’s on offer around the country at these types of places. We just want to share with you some weird and wonderful foods that we came across on our latest visit.

 

Fake food marketed as health food

Multigrain tortilla chips not much healthier
Heavily processed GMO corn, soy, vegetable oils, sugar and flours mean these chips are no healthier.
Primal Strips Meatless Vegan Jerky
Flavoured gluten (wheat protein) sold as vegan jerky. Yikes!
Quiznos roast beef and cheddar sandwich
The ingredient list reveals this to be much more (toxic) than just a sandwich.
Brookside Dark Chocolate Acai Snack Not Healthy
Hershey’s candy sold as a superfood. These were in all the supermarkets AND health food stores.

 

Golden Valley Natural Organic Beef Jerky
One of the best ingredient lists we found for beef jerky. This brand found at Natural Grocers health food chain.

Better Bad Choices

Organic free-trade dark chocolate, organic red wine, homemade baked goods, sweet potato chips and unrefined sugars are all examples of what we like to call “better bad” choices. Get the idea? We found lots of fun better bad goodies in America:

– Local organic beers and gluten free beers (made from Sorghum grain)

Beef jerky: in regular supermarket chains and mini-marts, it was difficult to find beef jerky without such toxic ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and monosodium glutamate, even on packages labeled organic or natural. However, there were some better options in health food markets, such as the one pictured to the right.

Snack bars: most of these “health bars” are made with highly processed ingredients are are void of nutrition and difficult to digest. The labeling can be deceiving, so always check the ingredient lists. This bar below has great intentions, but read the ingredients carefully and think about how much the foods would have to be processed to become powders.

Almond Butter Perfect Foods Bar
Definitely a Better Bad choice, as the ingredients are quite processed.
Found at Natural Grocers health food market, Prescott.

Bottled veggie juice and Yerba Mate Tea. It was great to see these juices with nothing in the ingredient lists but fruit and vegetables! However, plants are living things which quickly perish once cut and squeezed, so after sitting in a bottle for days, weeks and months, all that’s left is basically sugar water, not much in the way of nourishment. The best choice is freshly squeezed  juice, but these are definitely better bad, compared to most commercial juices. The tea is definitely a better bad drink, compared to a soft drink or the other teas that all had high fructose corn syrup!

Vital Veggies bottled vegetable juice
Nice try on a health drink, but veggies don’t live long enough. Found at Fresh ‘n’ Easy, which is really not so fresh.
Guayaki Yerba Mate Tea in a Can
It’s not fresh brewed tea, but for occasional convenience, this is a better bad choice found at many health food markets.

– Healthy chocolate: and it’s not dark! How nice to find a better bad WHITE chocolate bar. Raw with no dairy, too! Better better bad. 🙂 Found this one in New Frontiers Market in Prescott, Arizona.

Sacred Chocolate Bar White Chocolate with Lemon and Coconut

 

Fabulous Food Finds

These are the healthiest bars we found, and were very impressed at how raw they were! The seeds are sprouted traditionally, they are free of soy, and the foods are not heated to high temperatures, thus preserving the digestive enzymes and nutritional value of the food.

Go Raw Spirulina Bar

The same company, Go Rawalso makes these cookie snacks with the same quality ingredients and preparation. Both products were found in the awesome Natural Grocers in Prescott, which is a fast-growing health food store chain in America.

Go Raw Organic Cookies

Despite the war on raw milk in America, there is no shortage of raw cheese available to all. Yay!

Raw cheese aplenty in Arizona
Unpasteurised cow and goat cheese at New Frontiers Market, Prescott
Raw cheese from Trader Joes
Raw cheese combo from Trader Joes

Sprouted nuts! At home, we soak and dehydrate our nuts to neutralise the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that cause digestive problems and nutrient malabsorption. But to buy already soaked nuts in Sydney is very expensive. These were not only reasonably priced, but also mixed with real herbs and spices. Beautiful snack!

Gone Nuts Raw Sprouted Nuts
Sprouted nuts found at Natural Grocers health food market chain.

Organic cafes don’t stay in business very long in Sydney, but in Arizona, we found quite a few cafes and restaurants with organic produce, free range chicken, grass-fed meats, and healthy alternatives. This visit, we really enjoyed True Food in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Raven Cafe in Prescott, Arizona.

True Food Kids Menu
The healthiest kids menu we’ve seen.
From True Foods Kitchen!

Costco, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s

My family had huge punnets of strawberries and cherry tomatoes waiting for us – certified organic AND cheap! Plus big bags of wild caught flash-frozen fish, which we ate for many quick healthy meals. Organic frozen berries, canned fish, coconut oil – it was all from Costco! Check out Live Simply’s article about all the real food she buys at Costco.

Whole Foods always has lots of organic and local food, grass-fed and wild meats, a scrumptious cafe, and even a self-serve organic/local draught beer counter. Trader Joe’s is most loved for it’s organic packaged foods, much of which has only real ingredients and provide healthy convenience. Of course, all these stores also sell some junk foods and processed junk disguised as health food. Never assume that just because it’s from Whole Foods, it must be healthy. Always read ingredients and make wise choices, regardless of where you shop. The great thing about shopping at these stores and other health food markets is that you have so many better options!

Costco Wholefoods Trader Joe's

 

What are some fabulous food finds you’ve encountered in your town or when traveling?

 

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