Thursday, December 13, 2012

Turnpike drivers fill up on greasy food

A New Jersey Turnpike driver with a tray of fried food gawks at a TV.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss local produce and poultry prices, and how to avoid unhealthy fast food when you're on the run.

One of the New Jersey Turnpike service areas is named for Thomas A. Edison, but the light bulb in drivers' heads rarely goes on to illuminate just how unhealthy the food is.

Burger King, Popeye's and other fast-food outlets beckon to weary travelers with overpriced fried chicken, french fries, mystery hamburgers and pizza.

The food court off the northbound lanes is closed, possibly for renovation, but the one on the southbound side continues to serve drivers (between Exits 11 and 12).

On Monday, I asked a man sitting next to me how much he paid for a slice of Sbarro pizza.

"Four dollars and 70 cents," he said.

"That's called highway robbery," I replied.

I was drinking Zen Green Tea from Starbucks, which unlike most others I've patronized, doesn't offer a healthy fruit-and-cheese plate.

At times like these, I skip lunch and have one of the SOYJOY or Kashi bars I carry with me.

The SOYJOY bar is baked soy with dried fruit -- the closest I'll get to cake. Kashi makes a terrific Trail Mix Chewy Granola Bar with whole almonds.

I also carry fruit, nut and seed bars from Kirkland Signature, available at Costco Wholesale. 

On Tuesday, clementines at the Paramus ShopRite had shot up $3.

I bought 5-pound boxes of Spanish celementines on sale for $4.99 each in mid-November at the ShopRite in Paramus, but on Tuesday, the price had shot up to $7.99.

That's the price Whole Foods Market in Paramus was charging on Tuesday, but Costco Wholesale in Hackensack had Spanish clementines for $5.99 a box.

The Paramus ShopRite still has the lowest price on Gold or Golden Pineapples from Costa Rica at $1.99 each.

A large cantaloupe from Guatemala was $1.29.

ShopRite Fruit On The Bottom Yogurt, with active cultures and sugar, not fructose or high-fructose corn syrup, were on sale for 45 cents each, less than half of what I've paid for pricey Greek-style yogurt at Trader Joe's or Costco.

The ShopRite yogurt, with 1% milk fat, comes in 6-ounce cups. 

An Amick Farms chicken was $1.59 a pound, less than half the price of organic.

Coleman Organic chicken drumsticks were on sale for $1.99 a pound, only 10 cents more than antibiotic-free chicken legs from Readington Farms.

But I noticed an Amick Farms whole chicken with a label claiming it is "100% ALL NATURAL."

The claim in meaningless, seeing as the chicken was raised on harmful animal antibiotics. 

The label also is silent on whether the chicken was fed animal byproducts, which are kitchen scraps and bits of dead animals.

The label of the Coleman Organic whole chicken next to the Amick Farms bird says, "Always Vegetarian Fed."

This Fuji Apple from Costco Wholesale was black inside.

On Tuesday, I returned a 5.5-pound package of Fuji Apples for a refund of the $6.99 my wife had paid the day before at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack.

The first apple I cut open was black inside from improper storage.

That afternoon, I gladly paid $1.99 a pound for organic Pink Lady Apples and $2.99 a pound for organic Pinata Apples at Whole Foods Market in Paramus.

1 comment:

  1. When I wrote this, I confused north and south food courts, but I just fixed the error.


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