Principles of Eating Green: Shop the perimeter of the grocery store

Many principles of Eating Green play off each other. Such is the way of Principle #7- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. This pairs perfectly with the 3rd principle- eat whole, unprocessed foods. It also pairs well with 8, 10, and 12, which we’ll talk about soon.

Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store helps keep you from going into what I call the danger zone of the supermarket. There is one small danger zone along the perimeter, but it’s not nearly as bad as the center aisles.


Stay along the perimeter. Here are the foods you will find in the perimeter of the store:

  1.  Produce section- if you can help it, just stay here, and everything will be just fine. Here are all your fruits and vegetables, ready for you to enjoy and create delicious concoctions for your heart’s delight. You cannot go wrong with anything in the produce section.
  2. Milk and dairy products- milk and dairy have gotten quite a nasty reputation as of late, mainly thanks to the popularity of vegan diets and Paleo lifestyle. But when eaten in moderation and reading labels (remember what I said about the meat industry? Dairy goes hand in hand with some of the glaring issues), you can include some dairy into your diet.
    I am not a big milk drinker, myself. I enjoy almond milk or coconut milk just a little more. And my favorite cheese is goat cheese. But yogurt? Oh, honey, I am nothing, nothing, nothing if I don’t have my plain greek yogurt.
  3. Meat and seafood- like I said before, if you are a meat eater, there is nothing wrong with enjoying it. Granted, a healthier diet and a more environmental diet means eating a little less meat. Doesn’t mean you have to eliminate it completely. Just read your labels, and look out for the false “feel-goods” on the packaging. Look for Seafood Watch approved and Marine Stewardship Council approved seafood.
  4. Bulk foods- This isn’t in the perimeter of EVERY store I’ve gone in, but it is in the majority of stores. This one can be a little tricky to maneuver, as many stores throw in very unhealthy options with the healthier options. Read your labels, look for palm oil and other ingredients you are looking to stay clear of. So what do you look for in the bulk foods? Look for rice, all kinds of beautiful rice, and whole grains like oats, quinoa, and couscous. Lentils and beans can be found in the bulk food section as well as all kinds of nuts. Some places even let you make your own peanut butter.
  5. Bakery/Deli- Here is the sole danger zone of perimeter grocery shopping. Not everything at the bakery/deli is bad for you, but not all of it is good for you either. If you are inclined to avoid palm oil in your food, there is likely to be some culprits of your Bright Line eating habit in this area of the store. And while I don’t eat a whole lot of it, if you look for whole grain, there is no reason you can’t enjoy a little bread now and then. Sandwiches can be a healthy and environmental choice for lunches.

There are some Eating Green faux-pas along the perimeter of the grocery store. Next to the apples might be a caramel dip. The meat and seafood section will likely have pre-packaged meats with seasonings which are heavily salted, contain unhealthy ingredients, or even pre-cook the meats in unhealthy ways (deep frying chicken and fish- sounds good, but probably isn’t too good for you). The dairy section will have sugary sweets disguised as healthy foods. But if you follow this suggestion with the other principles, you will maneuver through the gorcery store like a pro.


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