[This is the ninth post in a long series. You may wish to start at the beginning. Like all my series, it is not necessarily contiguous—
Coming close to being done with the grocery store—
DairyNow, I know that some nutritional tribes shun dairy (most paleo, and in particular Whole30). If that’s your flavor of food religion, then you can just skip this section.
Milk. I admit, I’ve taken to buying organic milk recently. Not particularly because I can taste the difference, but I think mainly just because I’m using “organic” as a proxy for “treats their cows well.” Which is getting dangerous these days, as more and more “factory farming” outfits try to jump on the organic bandwagon. Of course, “organic” also encompasses “rBST-free” and “not treated with antibiotics,” so at least I’m getting those. And a bit of research on the old Internet tells me that (at least as of 2010), organic milk must come from cows that spend part of their lives roaming around freely, and that’s really the part that I want. But there’s no doubt that, unlike the price differential between organic veggies and non-organic choices,2 organic milk is quite a bit pricier than the alternative. So if you’re looking to skip organic anywhere, here’s probably the best place.
Another consideration is lactose intolerance. I personally don’t have any issues unless I consume milk in large quantities.3 However, at least one of my kids is pretty sensitive to the lactose, so we’re now buying lactose-free milk. If they make organic lactose-free milk, I haven’t discovered it yet. (But, if I do discover it somewhere, I’ll probably buy it.)
Then there’s the question of fat content: especially if you’re in one of the low-fat camps (like the Weight Watchers tribe), you probably care less about organic and lactose-free, and more about 1% or maybe even skim.4 I happen to think milk fat is in the category of “good fat,” but obviously opinions will vary widely.
The short answer is, get whatever milk you can get that fits your exact needs. Maybe the only guideline that’s really useful across all the options is, buy local where you can. Keep your local farmers in business, man.
Sour cream. Milk is nice and all, but sometimes you just gotta have some sour cream. It’s excellent for dressings of all sorts, plus making homemade dips out of. Again, I’ve been buying organic lately, and the only real downside of that is that it tends to separate on you. If that disturbs you, first remind yourself that this is one of those things you just deal with because you’re eating actual food now. Then, get a big spoon, and stir it up. The end. Seriously: if separated sour cream (or yogurt, or whatever) is the worst problem you’ve got, you’re one lucky individual.
EggsHere again, the main thing I personally look for is some indication that the chickens are being treated well. To that end, I often favor “cage-free” over strictly organic. Still can add a noticeable chunk to the price, but honestly I’ve come to really dig the taste of wherever my local TJ’s is getting their cage-free eggs from. I like to buy the biggest ones I can get (the “jumbo” size, typically even larger than the “extra large”), and I happen to get brown where I live. Honestly, there’s really no difference between brown and white eggs. Just depends on the particular strain of chicken. But there’s no difference in taste, or health value, or any of that.
I’ve heard it’s possible for eggs to go bad if you let them sit around long enough, but I wouldn’t know. Eggs in our house never last that long.
GuacamoleMaking your own guacamole has recently gotten so popular that it’s sending people to the emergency room.5 Well, I say “screw that.” Trader Joe’s has an absolutely divine guac which comes in 16oz packages, and even Costco has a really great option which comes in even handier 8oz cups. Sure, I could make my own ... but this series is all about easy, right? As long as the ingredient list is good (which it is in the both the options above), and it tastes good (both do), then what more do you really need?
Besides, guacamole vacuum-packed like either of the above options will keep in the fridge for several weeks, which is way more than your homemade stuff will. That’ll be gray in under 24 hours. (Note: You can still technically eat the guacamole when it’s gray. It just doesn’t look very appetizing.)
And that’s it for the cold stuff. Next time, we’ll do our very last bit of shopping. For realsies.
1 But, you know: no promises.
2 At least in my part of the country. Your mileage, obviously, may vary.
3 For instance, I had to give up eating big bowls of cereal, even long before I decided to cut out most grains, because the resulting cramps just weren’t worth it.
4 Personally, I say: if you’re going to drink skim milk, may as well just add some white dye to water and call it a day. But, hey: you do you.
5 And that was but one of literally dozens of articles I could have linked you to.