Thursday, October 1, 2009

The most dangerous room in the house

I have long felt the kitchen is the most dangerous room in the house, given the controversies over cookware, dinnerware and the industrial methods applied to how much of our food is grown or raised. (See last post, "If it's made in China, is it safe?")

There is plenty of good, healthy food on sale, but it is usually only a fraction of what a normal supermarket carries. I have visited Costco, Super Stop & Shop and ShopRite in the past week or two and watched what other consumers select.

Drawn by low prices and deceptive TV advertising, a lot of people are buying that crappy Perdue chicken and passing up healthier alternatives -- chicken raised on vegetarian feed and without antibiotics.

Fairway Market occasionally puts Murray's free-roaming chicken on sale, but ShopRite rarely discounts its drug-free Readington Farms poultry. Yet ShopRite will turn around and offer drug-free Australian beef at bargain-basement prices. Stop & Shop has a line of natural food called Nature's Promise -- poultry, beef and pork, among other items -- and sometimes offers discounts. Whole Foods Market frequently puts its naturally raised food on sale, but prices are still higher than most competitors.

This afternoon, there was an online auction at offering $50 back on a purchase of $100 or $25 back on a $50 purchase at Whole Foods Market, but it sold out quickly.

Can supermarkets promote unadulterated food better? I think so. A consistent sales policy -- discounting both conventional and naturally raised food -- would go a long way toward that goal. I don't mind paying more for food that costs more to produce, but give me a break once in a while.

And the media, which depend on supermarkets for precious advertising dollars, virtually ignore the challenge of shopping for food these days, lest they have to criticize these food giants for sales policies that seduce consumers into making the wrong choices.

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