7 Odd Things I've Discovered Working at a Health Food Store

Categories: Random Ephemera

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Photo by Steven Depolo

These days it's common to bump into people that are pursuing some form of healthier living, exercising more, and watching what they eat. Eventually, a lot of these individuals will start to do their grocery shopping at health food stores, places specializing in the food and products that they feel will benefit their new dietary requirements.

I spend the work week toiling away in a health and natural food store. My current job is interesting to me, because I encounter lots of people who are trying to live healthier lifestyles, but who also seem to buy things that aren't particularly healthy, or are completely ineffective. There are a lot of examples, but some of the biggest would have to include:

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Photo by Mallory Dash
"Ah... Delicious sewer trout."

7. Farm Raised Tilapia

A lot of my customers will ask very specific questions about products we carry, voicing their concerns (some of which are silly, I'll get to that later) about various foods, including fish. But one thing almost no one ever seems to have a problem with is the farm raised tilapia. I get interrogated about whether our salmon is wild or farm raised, but people buy a ton of farm raised tilapia, a fish that's known to have high levels of unhealthy fats (it's been compared to bacon), and that is also often imported from countries like China where it's common practice to use manure as fish feed. Besides the inherent icky factor of consuming a shit-eating fish, that practice is risky because of the possibility of disease transmission.

6. Turkey Bacon

A lot of health-conscious customers ask for turkey alternatives to foods traditionally made from beef and pork. It's understandable, because turkey breast is very lean and a good source of protein. The problem arises because plain ground turkey is kind of bland, and it takes a lot of salt and other spices to make it a flavor substitute for say, a hamburger. Even further down the "turkey dreamer" list is bacon. I get the appeal. Bacon is delicious, even the vegetarians I work with mostly concede that they miss eating bacon occasionally. But real bacon comes from the fatty part of a pig's belly, and there's really no way for a health nut to reconcile eating a lot of bacon as part of their diet.

The confusing thing about turkey bacon is that there is a large range in regards to how healthy any one brand is. A few even rival real bacon when it comes to levels of fat and sodium, so it's not a cut and dry question of "Turkey bacon is healthier than pork bacon." In a few cases, the turkey version even exceeds regular bacon in both fat and sodium content.

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4 comments
thorwilliams1
thorwilliams1

Most restaurants serve tilapia as their go to white fish. I was at the aquarium downtown and asked where did they source the fish for their tacos. They admitted it was farm raised from China.

When eating out ask where the fish is from, you will be horrified.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

In regards to #6, why make something from something else that purports to be what you do not want to consume.  It seems rather hypocritical to me.


If you want turkey, eat turkey as it is nice and delicious when properly prepared.  If you want bacon, eat bacon as it is nice and delicious when properly prepared.  And what exactly is turkey bacon.  I tried it once and it tasted neither like turkey nor like bacon.


One of the grossest substitute foods that I ever tried was a "veggie burger".  It tasted just like black beans with a bunch of red chile powder in it.  I looked on the carton and those were the main ingredients.  I like black beans and I may even like them with some red chile powder but not as a meat substitute.


As far as "gluten free" goes, I think it is the current incarnation of "dolphin safe".  I have seen products on the shelf that contain absolutely no grain products whatsoever; and, yet they are labeled "gluten free".


Off my soapbox now.


What ever it is that you like to eat, enjoy it.

malicet
malicet

Ok I had no idea about the Tilapia thing.  Thanks for the info I will add that to my list of things to never eat such as veal and other things I do not eat for my personal reasons~ that is really gross

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