The Grocery Store is a BATTLEFIELD

*information obtained from Salt, Sugar & Fat by Michael Pollan

We must be PREPARED for war when we enter the grocery store; we must defend ourselves when we walk through those doors.

Some of the tricks being used to seduce us are subtle, and awareness is key: the gentle canned music: the in-store bakery aromas; the soft drink coolers by the checkout lanes; the placement of the most profitable but the worst-for-you foods at eye level, with healthier staples like whole wheat flour or plain oats on the lowest shelf and the fresh fruits and vegetables way off on one side of the store.

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Have you ever wondered why the fresh produce section is the smallest section in the whole store? Why sodas and candy are always at the checkout lane? Why the best quality products are either hard to find or are on the highest shelf level out of eye-level or arm reach? All this is strategically planned.

But there is nothing subtle about the products themselves. They are knowingly designed – engineered is the better word – to maximize their allure. Their packaging is tailored to excite our children. Their advertising uses every psychological trick to overcome any logical arguments we might have for passing the product by. Their taste is so powerful, we remember from the last time we walked down the aisle and succumbed, snatching them up. And above all else, their formulas are calculated and perfected by scientists who know very well what they are doing. The most crucial point to know is that there is nothing accidental in the grocery store. All of this is done with a purpose.

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We must look at the grocery store as a battlefield, dotted with landmines itching to go off.

Ask yourself: WHY the food industry is so reliant on salt, sugar and fat? Is it because they are cheap and interchangeable? Is it because they make us sick? Is it because it helps them make sales?

Lastly, Us knowing this can be very empowering because it will help us make better choices. HOW?

You can walk through the grocery store and, while brightly colored packaging and empty promises are still mesmerizing, you can see the products for what they are. You can also see everything that goes on behind the image they project on the shelf: the formulas, the psychology, and the marketing that compels us to toss them into the cart. They may have salt, sugar and fat on their side, but we, ultimately, have the power to make choices. After all, we decide what to buy. We decide how much to eat.

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