Shopping for Healthy Food

I enjoy grocery shopping. That’s the chef in me. I’m always looking for the best healthy natural ingredients that I can find, and I do that by reading labels thoroughly. Food companies have gotten pretty good at disguising ingredients, so don’t believe everything you read on the front of the package. Follow these simple guide lines to purchase the best healthy foods. 



When purchasing proteins, stick with items such as grass-fed beef and pork, organic or free-range chicken, and wild or organic seafood. These products should be minimally processed and 100% all natural and/or organic. Don’t buy proteins with additives like nitrates, BHA, BHT, sulfites, MSG, hydrolyzed protein, or natural flavorings. This is extremely important, because some of these additives have been shown to cause all kinds of problems like high blood pressure and an increased risk of cancer. 

Products that usually have these additives are lunch/deli meats, hot dogs, sausages, marinated or injected products with some kind of enhancing solution, and pre-cooked meats or entrees. Do not buy anything sold as juicy, tender, extra moist, etc. Most of these products have been injected with a sodium/chemical solution that stays in the meat after cooking. First, you are paying for salt water and chemicals, and second, the food you are eating is now processed with high sodium. You must read every label on the package of meat that you pick up.

Fish and Seafood


Consuming fish and seafood is one of the very best things to do for your health. There are many types of fish and seafood, and I recommend eating a wide variety. When buying fish and seafood, look for wild, organic, or 100% all-natural fresh or frozen products. It is very important to read labels when buying fish and seafood. At the fish counter, ask the origin of the fresh fish or seafood. Ask if it is 100% natural. Many fish and seafood items will be marked “previously frozen,” so ask questions. Did you know that wild Alaskan cod can be produced in China? Cod is caught in Alaska, frozen at sea, and sent to China. The fish is then thawed out, cut into portions or filets, soaked or treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP), and then sent back to the USA. The box will be marked “Wild Alaskan Cod” and on a small corner of the box it will say “Produced in China.” The cod now has an ingredients list, and it is not the only fish this is being done to. I have seen this on halibut, haddock, pollock, salmon, shrimp, and many other fish and seafood items. Avoid fish or seafood products from China or any other country that contain STPP as an ingredient. Products soaked or enhanced with STPP will make the product maintain moisture or hold water, can have a preserving effect, and has a high sodium content. Check for seafood products labeled “dry,” which means they have not been contaminated with STPP. Food products labeled “wet” have usually been treated with STPP. Sodium tripolyphosphate is also used in household cleaners and detergents, so it is not something I want to be consuming.

Rehealth Yourself
Chef John Shirk
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