Health Food Stores Aren’t Always so Healthy

Health Food Store Shopper

Over the last several years, there seems to have been a rise in popularity of the “health” food store.  Once a place reserved for the tree-hugging granola types, the modern-day health food store has seen sharp rise in popularity amongst more main stream consumers.  While stores like Trader Joe’s  or Whole Foods are among the most popular, several others (at least here in Southern California) have been popping up and growing in popularity.  Sprout’s, Jimbo’s, Fresh and Easy, these are all stores that give off that same “healthy” vibe.

Screen shot 2013-06-13 at 7.21.18 AM
Number of Google searches for “healthy foods” – increasing year over year. 

While there’s no doubt these stores carry a lot of great stuff that you won’t find at your more traditional supermarkets, you’ve got to watch out for the hidden dangers lurking in their aisles.  The problem is, people assume what they’re buying is healthy simply because their buying it from a “health” food chain.

Let’s take yogurt covered raisins for example.  Raisins are natural and fruit, so they’ve got to be healthy.  And yogurt is a good source of protein; what could be bad?  Well, that’s the thing, you really aren’t sure of what you’re getting.  Let’s take a quick look at some of the ingredients in “yogurt” covered raisins…

  • sugar
  • hydrogenated oil, a.k.a trans fat
  • dry milk
  • yogurt powder
  • several multi-syllabul chemicals I’d rather not pronounce

Of course, it doesn’t stop there.  Veggie chips, freshly made soups, spinach wraps, sugary granolas, super sweet and over processed coconut water, natural sodas…..the list goes on.  Then there are the bulk bins filled with gummy worms, chocolate treats, and other quite obviously unhealthy options.  Some of these aisles resemble a candy shop more than a “health” food store.

The fact of the matter is, health food stores are FILLED with junk.  Just like you’ve got to be careful when shopping at a mainstream supermarket, you’ve got to watch what you’re buying and READ NUTRITION LABELS at these health food stores.

Unfortunately, the unsavory goods filling these stores aren’t limited to the items listed above.  These organic, health stores often have plenty of fish and seafood available.  More often than not, the seafood behind the glass divider has been farm raised.  Farm raised seafood is often artificially colored and pumped full of antibiotics.  How else could these fish be expected to survive spending their lives floating around a cess pool?  Unassuming consumers, who think they’re doing good for themselves and their families, happily purchase this factory farmed fish, and unknowingly down a host of antibiotics and other unnameable chemicals.

I’m not saying you need to completely avoid these stores – after all, they’ve got a lot of great products you won’t find many other places.  Chia seeds, coconut flour in bulk, reasonably priced organic fruit and vegetables, and a wide variety of vegan products still make these stores an attractive option to the health-conscious consumer.

Just don’t let yourself succumb to clever marketing tactics, pretty colors, and the artificial vibe that everything in these so-called health stores are healthy.  As always, be a SMART shopper, read nutrition labels, and if all else fails, ask whether something was factory farmed or wild caught.



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