Have you read my previous post: Where Do I Shop for Whole Foods? You should begin with this article for tips on whole foods shopping and cleaning eating. Now this is going to be a long post and a lot of information. There is just no way to condense it, because it is an involved process. Hang in there with me…
When shopping for any food, you want to think about whether or not the food item is in it’s most natural state, just like God created it. You want food that is processed as little as possible. It would be beneficial to also know where the food is raised or grown.
Yesterday we discussed produce, which for the most part is in it’s most natural state in the produce department of your local grocery store. When it comes to the other food groups like grains, meat and dairy, those products do have to be processed a little more to get them to a state that they can be consumed or to make different products from them. This is where it gets a little complicated, but don’t worry. Remember we are taking baby steps.
When on your whole foods grocery search or your next grocery trip, scoot on over to the meat counter. You’ll notice most of the meats are in foam trays wrapped with clear plastic wrap. These are the meats that you want to purchase. You don’t necessarily want meat that is pre-marinated, breaded, frozen, laden with preservatives.
As you move on down the aisle you’ll probably bump into the deli meats, bacon, hot dogs, etc. These of course are more processed than the meat that is in the butcher area of the grocery store. Many of them have preservatives, flavorings, marinades, etc. These are the meats that you generally want to stay away from. However, we live in the real world. Life happens and there are some times when we need convenient items or foods that are reasonably priced, so sometimes we find it necessary to make exceptions. We’ll discuss organic meats later, but for now let’s just focus on choosing meats that have the least amount of ingredients possible, and again those that contain ingredients we might have in an everyday kitchen.
Because I am on a tight budget, this is where I compromise a little. We also have gluten and soy allergies in my family, these are extra circumstances I have to consider when shopping. I buy Hormel Natural Choice deli meat. Here is a list of ingredients in their turkey:
- Turkey Breast Meat, Water, Salt, Potato Starch, Turbinado Sugar, Rice Starch, Carrageenan (from seaweed), Baking Soda, Cultured Celery Powder, Cherry Powder.
You’ll notice that most of the ingredients appear to be natural and items that you might have in an ordinary kitchen, except Carrageenan. Carrageenan comes from seaweed, so you would assume that it is “natural”. However, there are different types of carrageenan and there are differing opinions on whether or not it is harmful. From the research I’ve done, I believe it probably is somewhat harmful, but like I mentioned before there are times when we feel the need to compromise.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients in a typical package of deli meat :
- Ingredients: TURKEY BREAST, WATER, MODIFIED CORNSTARCH, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF SODIUM LACTATE, SALT, SUGAR, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, CARRAGEENAN, NATURAL FLAVOR, SODIUM DIACETATE, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, SODIUM ASCORBATE, SODIUM NITRITE, CARAMEL COLOR.
You’ll notice there are more ingredients, many of which you cannot pronounce much less know what in the world they actually are. So in the big scheme of things, Hormel might not be the cleanest option, but it is better than the alternative.
If you’re looking for a clean alternative, Applegate Farms is sold at Whole Foods and they have a few clean options: Roast Beef, Genoa Salami, Uncured Ham. However, many of their meets contain carrageenan.
Another option would be to buy whole hams or turkey breasts from the grocery store and slice them yourself. Brands like Butterball are not organic, but this is still a better option than processed meats. If you can afford to go organic, I would order from places like Organic Prairie.
The healthiest and best meat for you is grassfed or pasture raised meat, particularly from a local farm in your area. You can research local farms who will sell you organic grassfed beef or pasture raised meats in bulk.
When purchasing chicken, you don’t just want to look for organic, but for pasture-raised chicken. This means the chickens are raised in a healthy environment, where they are able to roam the pasture pecking and foraging. Because our government allows for vague and substandard labeling, you will also want to contact the farm directly via their website, phone, or even in person if possible.
Many farmers do supplement their animals feed with grains like GMO corn, and they also use GMO soy. GMO supplementation does not nourish the animals. Their nutrient value is less than those animals who are raised the way God intended. What the animal eats is passed on to you when you consume the animal. So you really need to investigate. You can usually search online to find answers that you need, but sometimes it takes a phone call to the farm. You want to know if the animals are fed supplemental feed. If so, then that is a red flag for you.
You can’t trust packaging because labels can be so confusing. “Organic” seems healthy, but even organic meat can be bad for you if the animals were supplementally fed with grains or soy, even if the grains and soy were organic, non-GMO.
You want to consume animals that are completely pasture raised if at all possible. If you suffer from auto-immune disease, thyroid illness, digestive issues, cancer, basically most illnesses, you don’t want to purchase meat from animals supplemented with feed. this is difficult to find, so try to come as close to this as possible.
Studies have shown meat from pasture raised animals is higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidant nutrients. Also, organic raised meat cannot contain antibiotics. Studies have shown that in people who have contracted an illness from bacteria like e coli from undercooked regular or organic chicken, their bodies responded better to antibiotic treatment than those who had eaten chicken laden with antibiotics. This makes sense, because the regular, antibiotic laden chicken had caused them to build up a resistance to antibiotics.
Unfortunately, I suffer from hypothyroidism, leaky gut, and I suspect I may have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. I am trying to heal my body, because I had gotten to the point that I couldn’t function and care for my family. My natural supplements cost over $200 per month, which I know isn’t much when it comes to some serious illnesses, but for our family it is a large sum. Adding the cost of clean eating brings that total up even more, but it just doesn’t make sense for me to take all of those supplements to heal and then eat food that is contributing to the problem and canceling out the healing of the supplements.
I purchase meat from several different sources. My goal is to purchase meat in bulk (possibly with some friends), but for now our budget is bogged down with college and medical expenses so I just don’t have a large sum to fork out even though it will save so much more in the long run.
I purchase grassfed beef from my local grocery store. I researched information about the farm and meat to confirm their practices.
I purchase only fresh or frozen wild caught salmon which would appear to be healthy. When you shop, take a look at where it was processed. If it wasn’t harvested and processed in the USA, I try not to buy it. Many packages of salmon state that they were harvested here and processed in China or Chile or other places. That is clearly not as fresh as possible. Food handling practices are different in other places as well, so I am not trusting salmon from anywhere else but here. I have found frozen, wild caught, keta salmon at Wal-Mart. Sometimes fresh salmon at Trader Joes is on sale for cheaper than the cost of frozen salmon at Wal-Mart.
I purchase wild caught canned tuna that has no soy or chemicals added. I have found some at Aldi and at Trader Joes. Even wild caught, clean tuna can still have mercury in it naturally, so I try not to eat a lot of tuna.
CHICKEN and EGGS
This is where it gets tricky. Due to my illnesses, I have to have pasture raised chicken that has not been supplemented with soy. Soy has phytoestrogens in it which are unhealthy for everyone, but especially for those with thyroid problems. There is a family owned farm in our area from which I purchase whole chickens and eggs. The eggs aren’t much more expensive than “free range” eggs at the grocery store. “Free Range” does not mean pasture raised, so don’t fall for that marketing ploy.
The chicken is rather expensive, but it is a necessity. I cannot eat vegetarian or vegan because I have to limit dairy (grassfed dairy is expensive as well). I am also not able to eat any grains or legumes (even if they are organic), because grains and legumes contain lectins that contribute to leaky gut which is connected to hypothyroidism as well.
To offset the cost of the chicken, I rarely purchase boneless, skinless breasts because they cost more. I purchase whole chickens. I cook them in the crockpot or pressure cooker, and then I save the bones to make bone broth which helps heal the thyroid and leaky gut. Every once in a while, I will splurge on chicken breasts.
Pork can be even trickier. The local farm has forest raised pork, which means the pigs eat from the forest and are not supplemented with soy. However, pigs are just generally dirty animals, because they don’t sweat to detox toxins. So one to two times a quarter, I will splurge on forest raised bacon or pork chops. Bacon is one of my favorite meats, but I have just had to learn to sacrifice because it is expensive.
- You’ll need to change your mindset a little for this one. By eating healthier, you are cutting costs. You are spending extra now, but you are saving your family a lifetime of health problems, suffering, doctor bills, medicines, and maybe even their lives. I know it is difficult to look at it that way, but it’s the truth. You just have to look at it as black and white, cut and dry, truth.
- Cut down on the cost of meat is to try to decrease the amount of meat you consume. Since eggs are generally cheaper than meat, eat breakfast once a week. We usually have breakfast on a night when we have to rush out the door to church or another activity. Scrambling eggs, making pancakes, baking a breakfast casserole can be done easily on that night or even ahead of time.
- Purchase in bulk by saving a large sum, splitting the costs with friends and family, use your tax refund.
- Purchase cheaper cuts of meat. My family does not care for dark meat. I didn’t care for it much either but I’ve gotten used to it. If your family is like mine, you can roast a whole chicken. Pull the white meat for a roasted chicken and vegetable dinner or to go on salad. Then use the dark meat in a recipe like salsa chicken. They’ll never know!
As I mentioned before, the whole foods lifestyle is a daily process of discovery and learning, and it requires a change of mindset. Prayer and studying verses on caring for yourself and your body can help you adjust to the lifestyle changes of clean eating.
Please share what clean, whole deli meats and budget tips have you discovered.
For more information on whole foods and clean eating, you may be interested in reading the following posts:
Whole Foods. It’s Overwhelming! Where do I Start?
How Do I Shop for Whole Foods?
Where Do I Shop for Whole Foods?
Whole Foods Tips for Shopping for Meat & Saving Money
Whole Foods Tips for Shopping for Breads & Grains and Saving Money
Whole Foods Tips for Shopping for Dairy and Saving Money