Going green at the grocery store

At a time when millions are short on green in their wallets, grocery stores are trying to give  Americans easy, affordable access to “going green.”

Natural products are not regulated by any organization, but products that are labeled organic must be certified. According to the USDA, organic foods must be produced without the use of antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering, synthetic pesticides or fertilizers with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge. The government must certify any farm or processing facility that handles a product before it can bear the organic label.

Fair trade refers to products that are produced under safe and fair working conditions. Non-GMO products are not genetically modified, and the animals raised for free range products must have access to outdoor areas of the farm.

Publix Super Markets and Sweetbay Supermarket, two of the major grocery stores located within a mile and a half of campus, have natural food sections and brands that they carry within their traditional stores.

Though Publix has opened Greenwise (their natural brand) stores, the grocery on Fowler Avenue is a traditional branch with a Greenwise produce section. The store carries other Greenwise organic products, such as milk, and natural cleaning products made by other brands.

Organic apples cost $2.29 per pound, while the cheapest non-organic apples sell for $1.29 per pound. A quart of Horizon brand organic milk is on sale for $2.17.

Sweetbay refers to Nature’s Place as its “alternative store within a store.” The Sweetbay on Fowler Avenue carries a range of Nature’s Place products from produce to cleaning supplies. Organic apples cost $5.99 for four, while the cheapest non-organic apples are $1.49 per pound. A quart of Nature’s Place organic milk sells for $3.29.

Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market, about five miles from campus, does not carry organic produce or milk, but the store does carry natural cleaning products made by Clorox’s Green Works and SC Johnson’s Nature’s Source.

Chuck’s Natural Food Marketplace, just over three miles from campus, is a specialty store that carries organic food and products and has a café and juice bar. Signs posted throughout the store explain product labels and uses.

Chuck Homuth, a licensed nutritional counselor, opened the store in 1998. Chuck’s offers several varieties of organic milk products, including locally produced farm-fresh milk, which is sold by the quart for $4.99.

Dana Akhoondan, pharmacology major, said she tries to eat healthy and is wary of some organic and natural labels.

“I like to buy produce that is locally produced,” she said. “I don’t shop at health food stores, but I like to buy fruits and vegetables from a Greek market.”

Akhoondan said she checks the labels of the food she buys.

“The first ingredient is the most important. I look to make sure the products don’t have ingredients like MSG or nitrates,” she said. “With things like soda, (people) know it’s bad, but they don’t know why. I think people need to be educated.”

Nutritional consultations are available at Student Health Services with a written
referral or after attending a nutrition presentation. To schedule an appointment, call 

Eating Healthy on a Budget

1) Look at ingredient listings on traditional products. Food products should be low in sodium, sugar and fat.

2) Some groups, such as the Organic Consumers Association, suggest that certain foods are more likely to have high levels of pesticides. It is easy to purchase organic versions of these foods or simply avoid them. 

3) According to the USDA, simply washing them can decrease pesticide residues that may be on the surface of fruit and vegetables.

4) Eat produce that is in season. Both organic and traditional varieties will be less expensive than out-of-season produce.

5) Cooking at home can be less expensive than eating out, and as the chef you’ll know exactly what is in the dish.

Christine Labit