Food for Thought

This past weekend, my family went camping to celebrate my parents’ anniversary. Any time you get 12 people together, you are going to have to plan your meals carefully. Here are a few observations I made at the grocery store when shopping before our camping trip.

Healthy Hogwash

Camping trips mean s’mores, and s’mores mean graham crackers! Should I buy the regular honey or the low-fat honey? Let’s compare!

Regular Honey: 8g whole grain/31g serving, 130 calories, 160mg sodium

Low Fat Honey: 10g whole grain/35g serving, 140 calories, 170mg sodium

So my low fat honey gives me more whole grains, if I eat a larger serving, as well as more calories and more sodium. I’ll have my s’more on regular honey graham crackers!

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Food vs. Food Product

Onions have never been my favorite food, but they are delicious when sautéed on the grill or cooked in a foil dinner. While Funyuns make a great snack to pack in a picnic lunch, they can hardly be called anything close to a real onion. In fact, Funyuns are primarily made of fried corn meal, not onions at all. If I’m going to end up with bad breath, I might as well eat the real onions that have nutritional value.
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Simple vs. Complex

Potatoes are another wonderful food to cook on the grill with some tasty seasonings. The “simple” form of red potatoes is on the left. These potatoes don’t have any other ingredients added or special processing or packaging done to them. On the right, are microwave ready, fresh creamer potatoes from The Little Potato Company. These potatoes have “an exciting blend of leafed parsley, sweet garlic, and hand-picked herbs,” making them not quite so simple.

However, I suppose you could argue that the five-minute microwave potatoes are less complex when you are cooking them than the original potato.

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Local Source

IMG_1794This honey hails from Ava, Illinois, a short three-hour drive from Champaign. It will also taste great on toast for a quick, easy breakfast! Quick breakfasts are great when you want to get out on the trail when camping. My favorite local honey comes from Sasse’s Apiary.

Most Well-Travelled Food

IMG_1817No camping trip is complete without fresh fruit, and I love pineapple! Although, I’m not sure how fresh this pineapple could be since it came all the way from Costa Rica. This is true for many ‘fresh’ fruits. Whenever we buy food out of season or that cannot be grown locally, we are accepting the fact that this food probably wasn’t picked this morning and probably won’t taste quite as good as it would if we could pick it for ourselves.

Targeted at Tots

IMG_1837With three young nieces, no family get-together is complete without snacks! What kiddo wouldn’t want Minion-Grahams? The shapes and characters that end up in the form of fruit snacks, Campbell’s soup, and mac and cheese always entertain me. It also amazes me to see how well this marketing tactic works, as children really do seem to enjoy eating a Minion more than the traditional teddy bear.

Going organic, Going broke

My family prefers eating homemade applesauce, but if we had to buy enough applesauce to feed 12 people on a camping trip, we definitely wouldn’t buy organic. The organic applesauce pictured costs $2.95 for 23 ounces, while the County Market brand costs only $2.69 for twice the amount (46 ounces). The organic applesauce costs about $0.13/ounce; while the County Market brand costs about $0.06/ounce. I didn’t taste test these two, but I would be very surprised if the organic tasted that much better!

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Eating on a Budget

IMG_1813Every college student is very familiar with this orange and yellow package, as Top Ramen is a very cost-effective form of food. While these noodles may not be the healthiest option, it doesn’t take much to market them to poor college students, families with children that are living on a tight budget and people that need quick and easy meals in their busy schedules. However, these noodles are also great for adding flavor and crunch in a broccoli salad for our camping trip.

Food Your Great-Grandma Wouldn’t Recognize

IMG_1820Munchie foods are great for camping and we always have plenty of snacks, but I’ve never seen apple straws and I doubt my grandma has either. The mere concept of apples being in straw form is very strange to me. I feel like this is another way to market fruits and healthy foods to people that otherwise may not eat them. I can’t help but wonder how much of the nutrition found in apples are maintained in these straws…

I think I would rather buy real apples OR chex mix and chips instead of trying to combine the two.

Guilty Pleasure

IMG_1836Anyone who knows me knows I love Oreos, especially Double Stuf. They are my guilty pleasure, and I can’t go anywhere without having a stash safely tucked away close by. I also don’t think I am alone in this guilty pleasure, as studies have shown that these delicious cookies might be as addictive as cocaine.

If you love Oreos as much as I do, next time you go camping, split one apart and add your s’mores marshmallow to the already delicious filling in the middle!

Even though we didn’t have all these foods on our camping trip, it was still lots of fun, and we definitely didn’t go hungry! Next time you go to the grocery store, look around a little bit and think about all the signs and messages being pushed your way. You might be surprised, or even amused by what you find!