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Activism Green Living Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food

Food Budgets – Using Creativity and Prioritizing For Healthy Eating


Does the idea of changing your diet to healthier foods seem completely overwhelming?  So many people have the idea that there is simply no way they can afford to eat healthy…but I’m here to assure that this couldn’t be farther from the truth!

This concept is so important, and one that I feel cannot be emphasized enough. With a little prioritizing, determination, planning ahead, and research about how to accomplish healthier meals in incremental steps, you really can be on your way to eating healthier while keeping costs down.

I’m not going to lie to you: you may spend more money than you are spending right now; or you may even save yourself some money up front (depending on your shopping habits). But the cost of eating unhealthy, processed foods on the back end is going to add up to much more overall money spent than if you are eating healthier foods to begin with. Just think about it in terms of where you want to spend your money, and it really might start to make more sense (and cents, no pun intended!).

Mainly, I want to emphasize that you do not have to buy all organic foods in order to eat a healthy diet. Don’t get me wrong – buying organic is a good thing to do for our health and the environment, but not everyone can afford it. The key is removing processed foods and buying whole food ingredients. If you are confused about what exactly the difference is between these terms, read How Well Do You Know Your Food? Find Out!

This post was inspired by my recent trip to the Grocery Outlet in the city where I live, Boise, Idaho. I hadn’t been to this store for many years, but was told by friends that good deals on food could be found here. I admit I was a little skeptical, but I wanted to go have a look. It was surprising to see things like grass-fed organic cheese on the shelf, but I also know that the selection changes from trip to trip, so going back and looking carefully at what’s available is useful to getting the most out of your dollar at stores like this.

As costs continue to rise, I have slowly been developing strategies to save money on food.  Other than from local farms, I used to shop almost exclusively at our local health food co-op. It is only a mile and a half from our home, so the convenience of it has always been appealing. Of course, this was also back when we had the steady income of a regular job. Last summer we started a solar/green IT business, and as anyone who has owned a business knows, things are slow to start – especially in a bad economy.

Over the last year I’ve also started shopping more at Fred Meyer, which isn’t terribly close to my house. But I’ve started going there about once a month. I stock up on Organic Prairie bacon (I haven’t yet found a good local source for bacon that is acceptable to my standards) and hot dogs from this store because they are $1.50 to 2.00 cheaper per package. Just think of the savings there!

UPDATE – 11/2010 since this post was written, we have stopped buying Organic Prairie products because they are affiliated with Organic Valley which does not do things as sustainably as they should – earlier this year they decided to prohibit their farmers from selling raw milk to their customers, and they use ultra-high heat pasteurization which kills nutrients in foods. Now we get our pork from the local grass-fed, organic farm where we get our raw milk and beef. Find a local source for this food – it tastes better and ultimately is safer. With food recalls happening left and right, you can’t afford to buy processed, industrial foods from the grocery store.

Here are some of the things I’ve discovered which enable our family to afford healthy food:

Don’t feel like everything has to be done all at once. Avoid getting into the trap of thinking that if you can’t do everything, you can’t do it at all. Make small changes as you can and when you can. If you believe the only way to eat healthy is to convert everything in your home from conventional food to organic food overnight, you’ll only hold yourself back from making any changes.

The most important aspect of moving from processed to healthier foods is doing small things one step at a time. If you allow excuses to get in your way of a healthier life, change will surely never take place.

Implement simple changes you can realize benefit from immediately. Instead of buying margarine or fake butter spreads, buy real butter – even if it’s not organic. Trade unhealthy vegetable oils and shortening for coconut oil, olive oil, and palm oils. Try shopping at grocery outlet stores – these are great places to find items like organic butter and cheese for half the price you would spend in expensive health food stores. You can also find reduced prices on healthy oils at these types of stores such as olive oil.

Realize that all organic foods are not necessarily healthy. The main point about eating healthier should be about removing processed foods. Many packaged foods labeled “organic” and even “natural” and “healthy” are just as processed as other packaged foods that aren’t labeled with this terminology.

For more information about what to look for when reading labels in the store, read Reading Labels in the Store – Don’t Be Fooled By Marketing Lingo!

Learn to cook and prepare foods from scratch. Here are some examples: if you are making Hamburger Helper or Kraft Macaroni and Cheese from a box, stop buying these processed foods and start making the equivalent from scratch. It does take some extra time, but with some research and practice, you can come up with several meals with the same ingredients made at home that you can prepare relatively quickly and on a regular basis that are delicious and nourishing for your family.

If you have not spent much time in the kitchen – now’s the time to start. There are many fantastic and free resources on the Internet. Web sites and blogs devoted to food and cooking can give you motivation and some great ideas – you could pretty much find all the recipes, support, and ideas you need if you have an Internet connection without ever having to buy another cookbook again. For some easy recipe ideas, visit our recipes page.

For a cost analysis of feeding a family of 3 (the foods used in this were mostly organic), read Proof That Real Food Doesn’t Have To Cost a Bundle, Is Nourishing, and Satisfies!

If you don’t have time to cook everyday, start preparing foods ahead of time. For example, you can soak oatmeal or other whole grains bought in bulk from the store. Use filtered water and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar overnight – it only takes about two minutes of time. Then you will have a healthy breakfast in the morning instead of boxed cereal which contains extruded grains (stripped of all nutrients during processing), is full of chemicals and other toxic ingredients. You can add whole milk yogurt, fruit, and real maple syrup to it.

Another example would be to buy a whole chicken, roast it in the oven, and then use the carcass and remaining bones and other meat to make a bone broth. This can be done in advance and left on the stove or crockpot for many hours (up to 24). When you are done making broth, you have a delicious and nutritious base for soups, casseroles, and many other uses that can be spread over multiple meals. You can also substitute meat bone broths for meat in a meal.

Eliminate processed foods from your kitchen as you can and trade them out for their whole food equivalents. One of the most important reasons I can think of to stop buying processed “convenience” foods is that these foods are full of fillers, chemicals, and preservatives and are, in a nutshell, not real food. Your body will gain neither nutrition nor a feeling of fullness from eating these foods.

The cost of these foods may be cheaper up front, but over time, your health will suffer and you will be in a constant state of hunger, which doesn’t justify the cost of the food to begin with. Over time, these foods also cause a state of malnutrition due to their lack of nutrients, and can actually cause nutrient depletion in your body due to the content of their ingredients.

If you believe your children won’t eat something different that might be healthy for them, then that’s exactly what will happen. Just by assuming your children would never bother eating something, you set yourself up for failure.

In our house, I’ve converted our meals from something unhealthy to something healthier many times by not having those unhealthy choices around anymore. When I got questions like, “where’s that other food?” My answer was simply, “we’re not eating that anymore, this is what we’re having.” Just remember, you’re the parent.

Make no mistake, it can take some time, but eventually this practice becomes acceptable. Your family will forget about the other foods you were eating and start to look forward to the replacement, and you can feel good about it because it’s healthier.

Decide what your priorities are and stick to them. One of the most important types of foods to eat organic or sustainably produced are meats, meat products, and fats. These foods are stored in our cells and can have lasting effects on our health. If you decide to buy some things organic while others not, prioritize based on this type of knowledge available about food.

If you can’t afford to buy any meats, meat products, or fats organic or sustainably raised, then at least buy the closest you can to the whole-food versions of these foods. Only buy meats with no other ingredients in them – avoid meats with preservatives, seasonings, flavorings, and other ingredients that look suspicious or you cannot pronounce. Look for “nitrate free” or “hormone-free” versions of these foods in your grocery store. These types of foods are available on the conventional market more and more, and are better alternatives to meat that is full of chemicals, preservatives, and other toxins. Read labels and begin to know what your choices are. Sometimes there are better choices in your grocery store than what you’ve been buying. And if you take the time to read and do a little research, you could be buying healthier meat, meat products, and fats for your family than you are currently.

Consider eliminating grains from your diet. Grains can be very bad for your health and cause a lot of health issues such as allergies, weight gain, digestive problems, yeast overgrowth endocrine disruption, (i.e., thryoid problems), infertility, asthma, bone loss, and others. For some great ideas for grain-free eating, read Go grain-free & still eat delicious, healthy meals.

Learn to rely on items in your cupboard for home-made cleaning formulas. Use lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, borax, essential oils, hydrogen peroxide, and coconut oil for cleaners, clothing detergent, and many other useful things you might otherwise spend a lot of money on at the store and damage your health and the environment.

Choose one new concept to learn on a regular basis and practice it until you feel comfortable. For instance, try making yogurt with some whole milk. This is a great way to get fermented foods in your diet. Fermented foods help maintain friendly bacteria levels in your immune system and are a good way to keep healthy. Or instead of cooking with unhealthy, rancid vegetable oils, switch to stable fats with healthy saturated fat like butter, lard, tallow, or coconut oil. For an overview of why real [saturated] fats are important, read The Importance of Dietary Fats.

Make a habit of keeping lists with things that you know you are going to need at the store. If you keep track of what you want to buy before and when you go to the store, you will save forgetting something important and possibly having to make additional trips that would otherwise be unnecessary.

If you do shop at the grocery store, stay on the outer perimeter of the store. Most processed and unhealthy foods are in the middle aisles, and whole foods tend to be on the outer walls – such as meats, seafood, and produce.

Use coupons. There are some organic foods on the market that you can use coupons to purchase if you are in a pinch and can’t buy local foods. For links to coupons for organic foods and organic products, read Saving Money On Your Organic Life.

Learn what your “staples” and basics are. These are the foods you’ll want to have regularly so you can depend on certain foods for your regularly prepared meals. For some ideas, here is My Kitchen Staples post.

Buy local. Purchasing local foods often reduces the cost of the food since transportation fees calculated into the price of foods are not a factor. You can often get a better deal on foods if you are willing to go out to the farm and pick them up. Find other people who also share your desire to support local farms and eat healthy food, and arrange to carpool or take turns picking up food.

Do the research and get to know others who are also interested in a sustainable lifestyle. The more you network and learn, the better off you’ll be and the more opportunities you’ll find to get healthy food and gain knowledge of how to prepare it. There are many places to look – both within your local community and on the Internet – the majority of them are free to access. Just from keeping this blog, I became friends with a lovely woman who sent me starter cultures for a kombucha scoby and dairy kefir grains. Thanks Jen!  :)

Be willing to sacrifice other items in your life that aren’t as important. In our family, we make healthy food a priority which means we do without a lot of extras like new clothes, going out to the movies, going out to dinner, or just buying something on the spur-of-the-moment that we really don’t need (a luxury item like a new CD, DVD, a video game, or whatever on your list that you can do without).

I realized years ago that I definitely don’t need more stuff (in fact, I need badly need to purge my house of stuff), and the most important things in our life are paying our bills and buying healthy food. We don’t go on vacations anymore because we are in frugality mode, so all of our available income is focused on necessity only.

But I’m not complaining. I feel truly blessed to have been able to make it through this first year of being a new business owner in an unstable economy, were successful in keeping our house, and have still been able to buy healthy food. Besides my family and close friends, those are the only things in life that matter. If the house would have had to go, it’s really just a house, We would have dealt with finding a rental, and life would have gone on.

Look for opportunities to trade or barter. If you have a product or service you can offer to someone for trade, do it! Many people are happy and willing to trade for something they want that you have to offer.

Remember, if you are committed to a healthy lifestyle, and you dedicate yourself to making things work, sometimes things just have a way of turning out in ways you would never imagine. Our family is on a tight budget because of our new business. Last year we made arrangements to buy a side of grass-fed beef with other families so we could afford it. The meat also comes with weekly raw milk. Our family really relies on the raw milk because we are all intolerant of pasteurized dairy products. This year, it was looking like we just wouldn’t be able to afford the meat and milk because our money situation was becoming very bleak. When we filed our taxes this year, we learned that we were getting a large refund that would come just in time to pay for our milk and meat. This was nothing short of a miracle and I am so thankful to God this came through. It was indeed an unexpected blessing to us.

Buying healthier choices on occasion as you can afford and they are available is better than not buying them at all. If you can only afford organic once or twice a month, it’s better than nothing. Do what you can when you can, and don’t compare yourself to someone else.

Learn how to stretch out your food. Since meat is one of the more expensive foods, use less of it and more of other protein containing foods that are lower-cost and still nutritious such as eggs or whole-fat dairy (look for non-ultra pasteurized and hormone/antibiotic free varieties – which are becoming more pervasive). Use bone broths in place of meats with meals. We save bacon or sausage for the weekends and eat eggs, fruit, yogurt, and other foods on the weekdays. We also eat a lot of Organic Prairie hot dogs because they are pretty cheap and sustainably-produced.

Learn which organic fruits and vegetables are a priority. The Environmental Working Group has a list of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables called ‘The Dirty Dozen‘. For those of us on a budget, this guide can help you prioritize which foods are most important to buy organic, and which can be bought conventional and thoroughly cleaned.

Consider growing your own food.  To start, try growing a just a few plants producing foods you are likely to use a lot each year. You can start from seed a lot of things you’d like to grow for not a lot of money – even organic seeds.  It has taken me about four years to get my garden to a condition where it is actually producing, and a lot of learning.

Last year the biggest change I made was very minimal – I added one bag of Happy Frog to my garden box (I spent $20) when I was tilling and planting, and my yield was higher than ever, and I had virtually no weeds. This is a sharp contrast to previous years where not much was growing and I had a forest of weeds to pull every week. Here’s my post on budgeting and planning for my garden.

However, learning what items to buy high quality and which to not worry about as much are important. Here are some items I won’t compromise on quality, period:

These supplements (which are the same as food) have made a huge difference in the health of my family. If you have a compromised immune system, are lacking important organs like appendix or gallbladder, and have eaten a modern diet for years, you likely need all of these supplements. Our food supply has become so adulterated with toxins and thanks to conventional farming practices, has effectively stripped many trace nutrients from our soil, rendering our food much less nutritious than in the past.

The cod liver oil is food, and it contains Vitamins A, D, and EPA, and DHA. For more information on the significance of cod liver oil in the diet, visit the Weston A. Price Foundation. The WAPF is a non-profit organization seeking to educate about sustainable living, food, and farming. They do not receive funding from companies to endorse their products.

Probiotics are the friendly bacteria necessary to maintain a healthy, diversely populated immune system and digestive tract, which is the foundation of our health. It is also extremely important to rotate probiotic formulas, because like bad bacteria, good bacteria have to continually change in order to be most effective. The key to maintaining ideal good bacteria levels in the gut is making certain you have a diverse population of different bacteria in your body.

You cannot get good quality probiotics from most store-bought sources (including dietary supplements and conventional dairy products). Even though they are cheaper than good quality products, the cost is less because the claims made on packaging about strains and cultures are usually overstated. In processing, conventional foods loses its potency, nutrition, and efficacy. They are therefore a monumental waste of your hard-earned money. It’s very true that in many instances you get what you pay for, and this is no exception.

Is a good multi-vitamin important?

That depends. If you have been eating a modern diet for many years and have health issues, it is likely that you would benefit from a good quality multi-vitamin for a period of time. You should consult a knowledgeable health care practitioner for advice. The body takes years to disintegrate, and conversely, years to build back up to health.

If you are going to take a multi-vitamin, the best kind to take is one that is whole-foods based, organically-sourced, and contains co-factors and enzymes naturally present in foods that allow your body to assimilate those nutrients properly. A cheap, synthetically-produced vitamin simply won’t achieve this (99 percent of what’s on the market), and is not only a waste of your hard-earned money but can also damage your health.

Real food will never damage your health as it contains all the correct ratios of enzymes, co-factors, and nutrients needed by the human body. Nothing produced in a laboratory will ever compare to nature’s perfect formula.

For an informative article about dietary supplementation, read The Importance of Proper Supplementation.

For more money-saving ideas and tips about maintaining a healthy, happy home, read Embrace and Perfect Your Home-Keeping Skills.

Do you have some great ways to save money on healthy food and living? Please share!

Activism Healthy Living Real Food

Whole Foods "Health Starts Here" Campaign Is A Vegetarian Agenda


On January 20th, 2010 the chain Whole Foods Market announced the launch of their “Health Starts Here” campaign. The food store which has millions of shoppers stepping through its doors weekly, is regarded as the world leader in natural foods.

According to their web site, “Health Starts Here is the first major program to be launched since Whole Foods Market added a new core value to its mission in October 2009: ‘Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education.’ The new program is based on the following simple principles for everyday healthy eating”:

  • Plant-based – choose plant-based foods as your primary sources of nutrients, and minimizing consumption of meat/dairy/poultry/seafood
  • Whole foods – choose foods that are real, fresh, natural, organic, local, seasonal, and unprocessed – with no mention or acknowledgment of how unnatural and processed foods like many grain/soy/corn products are
  • Low-fat – obtain your fats from foods like avocados and nuts – with no mention of healthy fats from meat and meat products
  • Nutrient-dense – choose foods that are rich in nutrients as compared to their caloric content, and build all meals around plants to ensure highest nutrient-dense content possible, and use the newly formulated ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) as a system for “scoring” foods – again, no mention of nutrient-dense foods like meat and meat products

The biggest problem is that these four recommendations are actually competing notions that become a contradiction to themselves. “Whole foods” and “nutrient-dense”  are on the list – which most no one would bothering arguing about…but Whole Foods carries products in their stores that clearly fall into the category of “processed foods” such as grains, soy, legumes, and even vegetable – and what’s more, are promoting consumption of these products as healthful choices, so it’s plain to see those statements simply aren’t compatible with each other for obvious reasons.

The Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) is Eat Right America’s designation as to which foods are the most nutrient-dense and healthier to eat.  Whole Foods has chosen to use this measurement tool as their way to determine the nutrient density of foods. As a comparison, you will find foods like olive oil chicken breast lower on the score and foods like leafy greens such as bok choy and kale highest – the olive oil gets 9, chicken breast 27 while the bok choy received 824 points and the kale received a whopping 1000. As expected, nearly every fruit, vegetable, legume, and grain scored higher on this scale than any meat or meat product.

The information provided by ANDI is a gross misrepresentation of foods that are nutrient-dense.  If we do a side-by-side comparison of nutrient-dense foods, you can plainly discern which have more nutrients. In December of 2009, Jenny from The Nourished Kitchen did such a comparison, and found that by and large – meats, poultry, organ meats, animal fats, seafood, and dairy products contained the highest level of nutrients found in all foods. The source for this information was Nutrition Data, an online source for nutrient content of all foods.

Still not convinced that fat and cholesterol are good for us? Read The Importance of Dietary Fats.

So I’m really puzzled as to where Eat Right America’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joel Furhman (the creator of this system), obtained this data? Apparently this data is further elaborated upon in Eat for Health, also authored by Dr. Furhman.

The American Dietetic Association has also put their name behind vegetarian and vegan diets. They have given it their full endorsement as a healthful choice, including recommendations that tell consumers to eat grains and soy (many of them processed, with no attention to the fact that much soy is processed, industrial waste and derived from genetically-modified organisms), in addition to vegetables.

According to MedScape, who supports the American Dietetic Association’s stance, the amount of individuals embarking on vegetarian diets are expected to increase in the next decade. This dietary philosophy should be accepted as healthful for children, pregnant mothers, and those experiencing health compromises who wish to improve their health. “Vegetarian diets are typically characterized by certain healthful features that may lower the risk for chronic disease — notably, reduced consumption of saturated fat and cholesterol and increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals with potent antioxidant, antiproliferative, and cancer-protective activity.”

I realize everyone should be free to choose their preferred diet, lifestyle, and anything else. And that should remain something each person should be able to choose for themselves. However, it becomes a blurred line when a large organization or corporation, such as Whole Foods or the American Dietetic Association begins promoting an agenda that is clearly in line with vegetarian notions of diet and eating. The situation gets worse when a medical doctor gives not only his or her blessing to such an endeavor, but is hired on to do consulting to create a measuring gauge with which to determine the efficacy of said program.

The Weston A. Price Foundation has made a statement about this campaign, and here it is:

Has the Upscale Market Outlived Its Usefulness?

WASHINGTON, DC. February 3, 2010:  Whole Foods Markets has launched a nationwide “Health Starts Here” marketing scheme that endorses a lowfat, vegetarian diet, with promises that the diet will “improve health easily and naturally.” The plan promotes the books and private business ventures of Joel Fuhrman, MD, and Rip Esselstyn, both of whom worked with Whole Foods to formulate the new guidelines. Customers now receive a pamphlet urging them to adopt a lowfat, plant-based diet and to cut back or completely eliminate animal foods.  Many Whole Foods stores no longer sell books advocating consumption of meat, eggs and dairy products.

The plan will feature new Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) labels for foods in the store; the index is designed to make plant foods to appear “nutrient dense” by favoring various phytonutrients in plants and ignoring many vitamins and minerals essential to health. “Whole Foods has stacked the deck against animal foods by choosing ANDI parameters that do not include a host of key nutrients, such as vitamins A, D and K, DHA, EPA arachidonic acid, taurine, iodine, biotin, pantothenic acid, and vital minerals like sodium, chloride, potassium, sulfur, phosphorus, copper, manganese, boron, molybdenum and chromium,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. “Many of the phytochemicals that Fuhrman includes in the index he developed for Whole Foods play no essential role in the body and may even be harmful.”

“Animal foods like meat, liver, butter, whole milk and eggs contain ten to one hundred times more vitamins and minerals than plant foods,” says Fallon Morell. “Plant foods add variety and interest to the human diet but in most circumstances do not qualify as ‘nutrient-dense’ foods.”

“For years before becoming deathly ill, I followed the dietary suggestions in the Whole Foods plan,” said Kathryne Pirtle, author of Performance without Pain. “I ate large amounts of organic salads, vegetables and fruits, lots of whole grains, only a little meat and no animal fat. I had chronic pain for twenty-five years on this diet, then acid reflux, then a serious inflammation in my spine followed by chronic diarrhea. Without switching to nutrient-dense animal foods, including eggs, butter and whole dairy products, not only would I have lost my national career as a performing artist, I would have died at forty-five years old! I am not alone in this story of ill health from a lowfat, plant-based diet, which does not supply a person with enough nutrients to be healthy and can be very damaging to the intestinal tract.”

“Consumers can send a message about Whole Foods’ misinformed scheme by voting with their feet,” says Fallon Morell.  “Most major grocery store chains now carry basic organic staples and a larger array of organic fruits and vegetables than Whole Foods markets. And citizens should purchase seasonal produce  and their meat, eggs and dairy products directly from farmers engaged in non-toxic and grass-based farming. It’s not appropriate for Whole Foods to promote a scheme that has no scientific basis and that bulldozes their customers towards the higher profit items in their stores.” The local chapters of the Weston A. Price Foundation help consumers connect with farmers raising animal foods in humane, healthy and ecologically friendly fashion.

“The growing emphasis on plant-based diets deficient in animal protein also serves to promote soy foods as both meat and dairy substitutes,” says Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN, author of The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America’s Favorite Health Food.   “Soy is not only one of the top eight allergens but has been linked in more than sixty years of studies to malnutrition, digestive distress, thyroid dysfunction, reproductive disorders including infertility, and even cancer, especially breast cancer.”
“Low fat patients are my most unhealthy patients,” says John P. Salerno, MD, a board certified family physician from New York City. “The reason we are spiraling into diabetes and obesity is because of the lowfat concept developed by the U.S government decades ago. Lowfat diets have a low nutrient base, and phytonutrients in vegetables cannot be properly absorbed without fat.”

Fallon Morell cites recent studies from Europe showing that lowfat diets promote weight gain in both children and adults, and also contribute to infertility. A meta-analysis published January, 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no significant evidence that saturated fat consumption is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has stated that eating animal fats amounts to an addiction. But in fact, animal fats are essential for good health,” says Fallon Morell. “The nutrients in animal fats, such as vitamins A, D and K, arachidonic acid, DHA, choline, cholesterol and saturated fat, are critical for brain function. In the misguided war against cholesterol and saturated fat, we have created an epidemic of learning disorders in the young and mental decline in the elderly.”

“Perhaps the vegetarian diet has affected the thinking powers of Whole Foods management,” says Fallon Morell. “It’s time for the stockholders to insist on leadership devoted to increasing customer base, not promoting a personal vegetarian agenda.”

The Weston A. Price Foundation is a 501C3 nutrition education foundation with the mission of disseminating accurate, science-based information on diet and health. Named after nutrition pioneer Weston A. Price, DDS, author of the book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, the Washington, DC-based Foundation publishes a quarterly journal for over 12,000 members, supports 400 local chapters worldwide and hosts a yearly conference. The Foundation headquarters phone number is (202) 363-4394, westonaprice.org, info@westonaprice.org

Comments about the Whole Foods Health Starts Here scheme can be emailed to:


Kimberly Hartke, Publicist, the Weston A. Price Foundation
703-860-2711, 703-675-5557


So why do I care about this, and why don’t I just avoid Whole Foods Markets and shop elsewhere? The answer is, I don’t shop at Whole Foods Markets except on rare occasions when I’m out-of-town and need some things I can’t get elsewhere. It’s true, their products are over-priced and I normally try to buy local and support farmers in my own area.

The reason I care about this is that it frustrates me to no end the far-reaching influence corporations like Whole Foods and organizations like The American Dietetic Association has on consumer spending and health habits. They have the ability to  make recommendations that many people tend to hear and follow – especially those who are affluent, and to those who simply aren’t aware of just what their dollars are supporting and where their money goes – which is really describing the average person. And there must be plenty of people who fall into both of these categories because Whole Foods Markets are successful as evident by their presence in so many locations.

I don’t like the fact that Whole Foods is using their power over the natural market segments to send a message to consumers that meat and dairy products should be avoided unless lean and low-fat. I don’t like the fact that nowhere have I ever seen the message to support all sustainable farming, including meat and meat product farming. All we’re hearing is the message that the majority of our diets should be plant-based and low-fat – which clearly doesn’t include any meat.

It is my intent with this information to raise awareness about the fact that although the mainstream medical communities say otherwise, there is a lack of real, scientific evidence proving that low-fat and plant-based diets reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other fatal diseases such as cancer. And, just because a big corporation or organization with a lot of pull chimes in with the same conclusion, does not make it intelligent nor rational. In my book, Whole Foods and The American Dietetic Association fall short on nutritional awareness and education.

The important thing here is to get the message out about truly sustainable living, health, and farming for our health and the environment.  Conversations about sustainable living and health that leave out  humanely-raised meat and meat products from a healthy environment are simply incomplete. Any person, organization, or corporation or other entity claiming to be pro-environment and health through sustainable measures but who attempts to encourage a vegetarian or vegan agenda isn’t telling you the whole story, or truth.

Here are some related posts:

The American Dietetic Association Refuses to Acknowledge Benefits of Organic Food

A Letter to PETA and Their Response

People for the Unethical Treatment of Animals – And Humans

And, this very poignant article featured in the New York Times

Sorry Vegans, Brussels Sprouts Like To Live, Too

Update! 2/9/2010

I sent correspondence to Whole Foods Market on 2/8/2010 expressing my concern over the lack of emphasis on meat being a healthy choice and nutrient-dense source of calories and elements we need to be healthy:

I am very disappointed at WF’s announcement of the “Health Starts Here” campaign which supports a low-fat and plant-based agenda on the web site and in other forums to the public. As a customer, I am offended at the exclusion of information about truly sustainable solutions to our health problems including meat and meat products from healthy, pasture-raised animals and poultry as part of a complete diet. It is certainly someone’s choice to be a vegetarian, but it is also someone’s choice to be a meat eater, and the fact that WFs is not showing the difference between eating sustainable meats and factory farm meats, which are two worlds apart, is appalling and disappointing.

By stating that low-fat and plant-based diets are the way to go, WFs is effectively telling consumers that all meat is unhealthy and should be avoided. Real meats from healthy sources are the most nutrient-dense substances on the planet, far and above plants, and your store has completely ignored this fact by promoting an agenda that doesn’t promote health.

I am sorry to say I will no longer be shopping at WFs markets when I travel – there is no WFs in Boise where I live, so that part won’t change for me in the slightest. As a food activist, my belief in supporting truly sustainable living goes the distance – humanely raised meats and poultry on pasture, local, organic, and no GMOs. I feel WFs discussion of what is healthy sends a negative message to sustainable communities and efforts everywhere and is extremely damaging to health. I am sending this message to the Las Vegas store because that is where I have shopped in the past, but I want this message conveyed to all stores in general.


Raine Saunders

Here is the response I received today from Jessie Walker, Information Specialist from the corporate offices of Whole Foods Market:

Hello Raine,

Thank you for contacting Whole Foods Market with your concerns. The intention of our “Health Starts Here” program is not to promote a 100 percent plant based, or vegan, diet. We are emphasizing the increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans – no matter what type of diet one eats. The program is a completely voluntary program that encourages people to simply eat more fruits and vegetables, foods that the majority of Americans fail to consume in adequate amounts. In fact we just became the only retailer in the US to sell grass fed beef in all of our stores. We are very proud of our meat and poultry standards as well as our products.

We appreciate your feedback and acknowledge there are many paths to health. At the end of the day, Whole Foods Market will still be a grocery store that offers a wide variety of products for our customers to purchase. Thanks again for reaching out to us with your concerns.

We hope this information is helpful. If you have any further questions please use our on-line response form.

Best regards,


Jessie Walker | Customer Information Specialist
Whole Foods Market | Global Headquarters
Phone 512-542-0670 | Fax 512-482-7670

Please note the fact that Ms. Walker did not acknowledge, whatsoever, the fact that the four criteria listed expressly convey to consumers to minimize meat and meat product consumption and place emphasis on low-fat, and obtaining our nutrients mostly from plants, plant products, and whole grains – which is what I pointed out in the first place. But she did not address these points at all.

The bottom line is, Whole Foods has positioned themselves as a leader in health, and millions of people rely on their actions and guidance about health and diet. They have a responsibility to present truthful information about real foods to encourage health. By promoting low-fat, processed, and packaged foods as health foods and misrepresenting to the public that these products are going to bring good results, they are not only acting irresponsibly, but unethically as well.

UPDATE! 3/3/2010
As brought to my attention from a commenter below, Whole Foods has changed the wording on their mission statement page about this campaign – instead of saying “minimize meat and meat products” it now reads: “If eating a diet that includes animal products, choose leaner meats and seafood as well as low-fat dairy products.” But the statement about low-fat is still strong in the campaign. When I originally wrote this post, Whole Foods made a definitive statement against consumption of meat and meat products.

I want to encourage everyone to post about this, Twitter, and Facebook. Also, please contact Whole Foods and express your concerns about this matter.

This post is part of Kelly The Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays and Works for Me Wednesdays carnivals. Please visit these sites and see all the other great posts linked there.

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