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Grocery Woes

I’m on a diet. The Michael Pollan diet. In his new book, In Defense of Food, Pollan encourages his readers (including me) to “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.? These are the words that I hope to live by, if not for life, at least for this semester.

Last week I went grocery shopping. I think I already violated some hidden Pollan taboo by not shopping at a Trader Joe’s or an outdoor market. Minor setback and not one without excuses. It was freezing, I didn’t have a car, and I’m poor. Hopping the 16 bus, skipping past Wal-Mart and Rainbows, I stop in front of Cub Foods (it’s kind of local). On my abysmally short grocery list I had scribbled bread, milk, cereal, and deli meat. At least there wouldn’t be much room for error. Or so I thought.

Heading into Cub, I refreshed Pollan’s food policies in my head.
Number one, shop the perimeter of the market. This one didn’t seem too bad, until I realized that everything around the perimeter required cooking of some sort. Now readers beware, I am neither lazy nor incompetent in the culinary arts. I merely do not have the physical devices needed for cooking. Namely, I don’t have any pots or pans. With some quick thinking, I pulled down two bags of lettuce and some carrots. Just rinse and eat. Plus, they’re plants.

Onto food policy number two; don’t buy anything with more than five ingredients. Crap. I had just reached the cereal aisle. The ingredients lists were at least 20 items long. I compensated by choosing the most healthy-looking cereal with multi-grain flakes and vanilla clusters. It can even reduce my cholesterol. Crap. Forgot about policy number three; don’t buy food that makes health claims.

After grabbing some whole grain bread (I know its enriched flour, but wheat tastes horrible) and some milk (it’s not organic, but it’s local…I think), I’m finally almost done. The only thing left is deli meat. Heeding Pollan’s words, I bypass the meat in boxes and head for the deli counter. One look at the price, and I’m tempted to go back to the Lunchables. $6.99 for a pound of turkey meat? I suck it up and buy it, along with all my over items for a grand total of $45.

Wait a minute. Let’s recap. I bought milk, meat, bread, cereal, 2 heads of lettuce, and bag of baby carrots. That’s 7 things for $45 that will be gone in one week. In a month, I will be spending more than $135 on food, and that’s not taking into account whether I can stand eating sandwiches everyday for that long.

Not exactly a great start to my dietary planning. Pollan’s diet better be leading me to a healthy and revitalized body to account for the gash in my wallet. We’ll see soon enough.