Produce tag: Organic, Locally grown on Big Island

The title of this post describes me perfectly. There are only so many hours in the day, and when I'm finished working, I want to get errands done as quickly as possible so I can enjoy my free time. I relish and search for any and all time-saving (or really effort saving) devices out there… if there’s anything that can help automate my life to get things done faster and done well, I'm all over it. I've got automatic bill payments, a few sets of meal plans that I use over and over; I've got a couple dozen automated online tasks (thank you IFTTT), and more. One of the hardest things to automate is grocery shopping. Many Down to Earth shoppers are aware of how their daily diet impacts just about everything. Every meal you eat has real effects on your mood and energy, your health, your time, and your budget… as well as external consequences like impact on the environment and the national/local economy. That's a lot of pressure on the food you choose. You want to shop for clean, sustainable, smart food but you can't or won't spend hours at it. You need to balance your values with your real life.

For me personally, when I go grocery shopping, I usually do it during my lunch break or right after work. This often presents time limitations so I go in with purpose and a process. I always make a checklist. My broccoli casserole needs this, this, this, and this. Repeat for 3 or 4 more recipes. After the basic shopping list is compiled and I’m in the aisle, I filter the possibilities for my ingredients in this order:  local goods get priority, then products with Non-GMO Project Verified or USDA Organic labels, and then if everything is pretty equal, I'll go by price.

Here are some other tips that can help make your shopping even easier:

  1. Shop at Down to Earth. Our standards for the ingredients that are allowed into the store are staggering. The list often seems endless to my eyes. We do not allow any meat, fish, or eggs in any of our products. Basically if it’s a questionable (aka junk) ingredient, we won’t allow it into the store. When I shop at DTE, I can feel 100% confident that the products don’t have any artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, or additives. Don’t forget that just because the ingredients are high quality, it doesn’t mean they aren’t high calorie -- an organic cookie with fair trade sugar still has the same amount of sugar as the conventional choice. Also get to know your favorite DTE location, and know where all your go-to products are so when you get in there, you can hit the main spots without wasting time just looking around.
  2. Buy products that are locally made – chances are they are fresher and have a smaller carbon footprint.
  3. Buy products that have the Non-GMO Project Verified Label or the USDA Organic Label. Learn more about GMO Labelling
  4. Buy in bulk. Eat a lot of granola? How about a ton of brown rice? Sprinkle hemp seeds on all your meals? When you buy pantry items in bulk, you’ll save money on packaging and get the exact amount you want. I personally grab a half-pound of fresh ground peanut butter every week in my own reusable glass jar. This means my pantry is always stocked for cooking at home. (Don’t forget to ask a cashier to weigh your container before filling it so you don’t have to pay for the extra weight.)
  5. Shop Down to Earth’s monthly Super Saver Deals flyer, which comes out once a month. I’ll often create my meal plan around whatever’s on sale. My favorite local honey is on sale this month? Guess I’ll be making Baked Tofu with Pineapple & Honey BBQ Sauce and maybe Mie Goreng (Fried Noodles).

It might take you a couple shopping trips to get the rhythm down, but once you do, you'll be flying in and out of the store in no time! Happy eating!