Full Confessions – do you hate me for this?

Full confession.  I’m a whole food evangelist, I’m a health nut, I am a supporter of organic, local food and farmers….  And I shop at Costco.

Now I fully expect to get some comments like, “I’m disappointed to hear this from such a health advocate” or, “how can you support such a corporate machine that goes against all you stand for?”.  That’s fine.  Valid points.  But hear me out.  I need to write about this cause I want you to succeed.

The other day I was working with a mom who was frustrated and felt like a failure cause she couldn’t keep up.  She had jumped right into a whole food lifestyle overnight, had decided to buy only local and organic and cook everything from scratch.  Admirable and amazing… but 5 weeks in it was quietly killing her.  By the time she came to see me it was clear that she was not going to reach the health goals she had set for her family if she didn’t find her wiggle room.

For me, Costco is part of my wiggle room. I shop at Costco cause I have to feed a family of 5 who all eat like horses, I like to buy in bulk, I’m not perfect, and the prices are hard to beat.

I always feel a little like the dark side is steeling a piece of my soul when I go there, but when I step back and see the big picture I am reminded that Costco is really like any grocery store.  There is a lot of junk and a few gems.  I still have to hone that superpower that allows me to recognize “healthy” from “looks-like-healthy-but-isn’t”; I still have to sort through the junk and find the “real food”; I still have to consider what I can get locally or from a smaller grocer or butcher or need to order on-line.  I am selective with big box stores and, at this point, have it down to a science.

Things I don’t buy at Costco….

  • Stuff that is organic just cause it says “organic” – read labels carefully!  Just cause it’s organic doesn’t make it healthy.  I am actually more interested in the Non-GMO label these days than the organic label.
  • Over-packaged fruit.  This one really bugs me… you know, those big plastic containers?  Huge waste.
  • Anything I can get locally.  During our growing season I frequent the farmer markets to get fresh greens and produce and berry farms to pick and freeze what we can.
  • Organic chicken and eggs.  At first I though, “great! Costco is getting with it!”.  Then someone wondered out loud to me… “where the heck are they getting such mass quantities of organic chicken and eggs?”  Hmmm… indeed.  So I started digging and found this.  So when it comes to chicken and eggs, I stick with local farms.

Things I do buy at Costco…

  • Junk food snacks… things like quality potato and veggie chips, granola bars and quinoa cookies.   I read labels and have a few “deal breaker” ingredients – items that I won’t bring into the house because they actively interfere with growth and development (I’ll write more about these another time). But I am careful about what I restrict.  We enjoy our treats together and I rely on the strategies I have up my sleeve to support their overall resilience (if you want “in” on those strategies, you can start by joining our new Membership site and keep your eye out for my upcoming “Raising Resilience course”).  I’ve written elsewhere about my 80/20 rule… choose foods that support resilience 80% of the time and the body can adapt to the 20% wiggle room.  It’s how I keep myself sane.
  • Raw cheese – I buy cheese that is made from raw milk and has been well fermented, like swiss.  Same stuff as the other grocery stores, but less expensive
  • Gluten Free bread.  I often make my own, but I do keep a loaf or 2 of Costco’s in the freezer for those busy times. They carry one that is actually quite “clean” and costs LESS than $9 a loaf
  • Grains.  After arsenic scares emerged a couple years ago I now only buy Basmati, which tested lower in arsenic by consumer reports.  I also buy large quantities of quinoa (also lower in arsenic).
  • Canned fish.  There are only a few things that I buy in cans.  Wild Sockey salmon (with skin and bones) and sardines are two of them.  They are nutritious and convenient foods to have on hand

I don’t want to go on and on here… my point is this: keep it real, and keep it manageable.  I give you permission to not be perfect.  I give you permission to do what you have to do.  You’re busy and you need to be efficient and cost effective.  Find your 80/20.  For me that includes sporadic visits to big box hell… some of the time and with my superpowers turned way up (and no, Costco didn’t put me up to this)


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