Habits for the New Year and Beyond – #5 Change Your Grocery Store

Happy New Year!!!!  Last year totally rocked – Thank you for letting me be part of your lives!  I love you all very much and wish you a year filled with lots of adventure, happiness and ultimate wellness!

I hope you are already following Habit #1Habit #2, Habit #3, and Habit #4 – I am!

I woke up and had hot water with lemon and cayenne this morning, fasted for 12 hours, and fueled up after with a green smoothie… It’s been a great day following habits that are simple to take forth year after year, not just part of one year’s resolution.

I have one more habit left to share… And it’s another easy one.

Habit #5 – Change your Grocery Store 

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If I could give one piece of health advice to everyone I love I’d ask them to shop in a place where they can get the best quality groceries and produce available. Changing my grocery store has been fundamental in changing my health for the better. Typical huge whole sale box stores and conventional supermarkets are stocked with so many bad chemicals and ingredients it makes my head spin. The top BIG FOOD companies have created so many foods that are full of anything but whole ingredients – It’s cheaper for them to make these chemically made up fake foods than to use real whole and nutritious ingredients.

Alternative health stores have been around forever, but in the recent past they have become more mainstream allowing someone to make a easy transition to healthier organic whole, packaged and convenience foods.

I understand that some big name conventional grocery stores are making an effort to include more organic produce and organic convenience foods – but, they still carry all the chemical laden foods too. This makes shopping there 10 times harder because unless you know the brand and trust it – it means reading lots of labels and deciphering chemical names of ingredients. People are busy and what looks like good wholesome food can turn out to be a mistake – This has happened to me! It’s easier for everyone and safer to go to a store or market that has guaranteed quality ingredients.

This is probably one of the worst aisles in a typical grocery store…

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There are stores that make a commitment to ban certain ingredients from ever hitting their shelves – Really serious ingredients like growth hormone they put in dairy products that is known to cause cancer, partially hydrogenated fats that cause heart disease and high fructose corn syrup that is linked to diabetes and obesity.

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Earth Fare has a list of all banned ingredients and why they ban them in their Food Philosophy. For instance, they don’t allow growth hormone, trans fats, or high fructose corn syrup in any of the products they have on their shelves. Whole Foods has a similar list and Trader Joe’s too. You won’t find Coca Cola or Doritos there. One of my favorite stores (Healthy Home Market) doesn’t have a list sadly, but still does a good job at keeping a lot of bad chemicals out of their store. It’s definitely a better alternative to the chemical filled aisles of a conventional supermarket.

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You don’t even need to go into a grocery store at all on a regular basis – you can go to the farmer’s market to get local and organic produce (Atherton Market and 7th Street Public Market are my favorite) or grow your own food… like my Mom does right in her back yard…

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And sometimes, you don’t even need to leave your house.  Buying organic staples on the internet is a terrific way to save money and time! (Green Polka Dot Box is a fantastic option with lower prices that you can find at the stores in town). I can buy organic coconut palm sugar for about half the price I can get it in most natural food stores. This can add up to big savings overtime and worth the click, don’t you think? I also buy coconut oil, ezekiel tortillas, nuts, dried fruit and various organic snacks on the internet too. Have you been to the Food Babe Shop yet to see some of my favorites?

Remember always…. “The greatest wealth is health.” Support establishments that want you to be well!  Vote with your dollars. And shop smart.

Hope you enjoyed this healthy habit series and found some valuable insights to take with you into the new year and beyond!…

I’d love to hear from you either here or on my Facebook Fan Page.

Reader Questions: Where do you shop for groceries? Do you see an opportunity for change? Did you come up with any new year’s resolutions of your own?

Happy Shopping!

Food Babe

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143 Responses to “Are There Harmful Ingredients Lurking In Your Spice Cabinet?”

  1. Josh

    Did you know that there are two types of cinnamon? a good type and a bad type?
    Check out this article – http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/choosing_the_right_cinnamon.aspx

    you should check to see if your monkey cinnamon is cassia (bad) or ceylon (good).

    • Darris (to Josh)

      This is such good information, thank you! I eat a lot of cinnamon and had no idea I could be adding a toxin to my diet.

  2. Jake Taylor

    I prefer my spices freshly ground. I can leave them in my cupboard without worrying about them going stale in 6 weeks. They’re non-irradiated so I know I’m getting the health benefits. And they taste 1000 times better. I mean I fresh grind my coffee. Why would I treat my spices any differently. Buy whole spices. Repurpose an old coffee Grinder. And for light use by ready to go grinders from the folks at Cape Herb & Spice (there are a couple other brands as well, but I’ve never used them)..

  3. Jamie

    I would like to know FoodBabe’s opinion on Wildtree products. I have been using these organic, preservative free products for cooking lately, and the girl i buy it from wants me to become a rep for them , but I follow FoodBabe and do not want to put my name on something that is not good for our bodies. Has she ever looked into Wildtree?

    Thank You

    • Tracy (to Jamie)

      Wildtree rocks! We have been using Wildtree culinary blends for 7 years. Organic, GMO free and taste great!

    • Mandy (to Jamie)

      I have the exact same question!! I’ve been trying to decide whether to sign up because some of the ingredients in the boxed mixes are questionable but the seasonings are really good.

  4. alison

    Thanks Food Babe! I will be purchasing this cinnamon today at my local market! I’m SO happy they have it!! YAY!!

  5. cindy millis

    So, we have a problem here….the fact that Frontier, which is the same company as Simply Organic, has China as their source. I have read that conditions are deplorable in China, with polluted water as well as the air and that human waste is considered organic! So, how can you feel comfortable consuming this brand of spices?

    I would really like to know, as I have been using these same brands myself and have discovered just TODAY, the source of being grown and manufactured in China! I am kind of freaked out right now and wanting to find an organic source in the US.

    • Lory (to cindy millis)

      Hi — I’m a little concerned about this, regarding China as the source for all of Frontier’s spices, as stated above.

      I just purchased a large 1 lb. bag of their fair trade “Powdered Ceylon Cinnamon” (Cinnamomum velum) and it states that it is grown in Sri Lanka. Does anyone know if this is *not* the case?

      I’m not talking about the cassia varieties, but what is referred to as ‘true’ cinnamon (c. velum). Thank you for any information or insights.

      • kate (to Lory)

        Frontier does not source all spices from China. Garlic and ginger, for example, are sourced from China, but are Well Earth certified. Well Earth is a program that promotes the sustainable production of natural and organic products through close partnerships with suppliers. Frontier seeks out sourcing partners who are as committed to quality botanicals and sound social and environmental principles as they are. Their Well Earth suppliers help them produce high-quality, socially responsible products that customers can feel good about using. They’re healthy and they’re made with integrity. Frontier’s organic ginger supplier from China is also Social Audit-certified through InterTek. This certification requires the company to pay above average wages while ensuring employee safety. Furthermore, employees are provided access to health care and other benefits such as overtime pay, time off policies and ability to meet and unionize if they want.

        Also, all organic products sold as certified organic in the United States are required to follow the U.S. standards and be certified by a USDA-accredited certifier.

  6. Nanette Hopkins

    Is Pepper considered a spice

  7. Gerri Frey

    How do penzeys spices rate as far as purity???

    • Laurie (to Gerri Frey)

      I shop at Penzy’s sometimes. I asked the store clerk if the spices were
      organic and she had no idea and had no idea where they were made. I won’t be going back.

      • Yvonne (to Laurie)

        Wow! I just went to Penzey’s yesterday and asked if their cayenne pepper was irradiated and the cashier asked me what irradiation meant!

  8. Victor Goguen

    Always great information, Vani. I have recently been researching the health benefits of spices. I never knew of the healing properties of spices before, always thought they were only for flavouring.

    Do you mind if I share this article with my readers? DadsGreenLife.com

  9. Jennifer Young

    Excellent research. After doing my own research recently, I decided I had to get rid of my normal McCormick spices. So I replaced all my spices with organic. I three out every spice in my cabinet and bought 18 organic spices from Simply Organic on amazon. Can’t wait to start cooking with them!

    • Jeri (to Jennifer Young)

      I have cleared my cabinet of all Simply Organic spices. A recent study by the independent testing group, Consumer Lab.com , reported an excessive amount of insect parts in Simply Organic spices. I called Simply Organic several times and wrote to them to get their side, but they refused to respond to any of my requests. To me, that says all I need to know.

      • lisa (to Jeri)

        Jeri, I’ve called Simply Organic before about this report and they’ve explained there is nothing to worry about. They even gave me their actual report. I did more research and found that this bozo sells these false reports so people will stop buying good quality products and buy his instead. Apparently the owner of the site owns hundreds of other sites and uses irresponsible marketing tactics to scare people buying his products. It’s unfortunate that people believe everything they read. Simply Organic is a good company with wonderful, sustainable practices. Don’t believe some bogus report.

      • Jeri (to Jeri)


        I first became of aware of Consumer Lab through Dr. Oz, a source I trust and respect. It’s really too bad people cannot intelligently discern the difference between a company’s sales propaganda vs. fact. For decades, cigarette manufactures said their product was completely safe and had absolutely no correlation to lung cancer. How did that work out? You either work for Simply Organic or are quite naive. Let’s see. Who do I believe…You (whoever you are) and the folks at Simply Organic or an independent source, such as Dr. Oz? That’s a no-brainer.

  10. ashley lotito

    Hi Vani,

    I emailed you last month about a new organic spice shop. Spice it Up in NJ carries organic spices, spicely brand, as well as many other products such as oils, vinegars, gluten free baking mixes, hot sauces, etc… It’s a great shop, worth checking out!

  11. Deborah Donais

    Another great option for spices and blends along with other items is Wildtree. Many organic items also!! http://www.mywildtree.com/worryfree

  12. Lori

    Thank you, Vani…great reminder!


  13. Noor

    Hi Vani! I recently came across a blog post about the harmfulness of cinnamon, more specifically cassia cinnamon. Apparently ceylon cinnamon is better. What kind of cinnamon do you recommend???

  14. ashley pope

    Thank you for posting! You can order organic spices and teas on my website http://www.spice-topia com. We source mostly from frontier!

  15. Margaret

    Can you PLEASE find out if their products are Pure, Safe and Beneficial…So expensive and so many claims being made…Please help educate the public and save people time and money…They say their products are non GMO…but I really wonder
    Thank you

  16. Gabby

    I read through most of the comments, sorry if I missed this or if anyone already asked, but are there any websites that sell cheaper organic spices? My local organic store does not sell spices in bulk and they are insanely expensive at the Whole Foods near me.

    • Assistant to Food Babe (Pam) (to Gabby)

      Hi Gabby – Yes, there are links to buy Simply Organic and Frontier spices online at the end of the post. I’ve also seen Frontier spices in bulk at Kroger/Fred Meyer grocery stores.

      • Gabby (to Assistant to Food Babe (Pam))

        Great, thanks! I didn’t realize those were links to websites ha. I was buying Frontier at Kroger before but I moved and the closest one to me is an hour away :/

        Thanks again!

    • Jenny (to Gabby)

      The Bulk Herb Store and Mountain Rose Herbs are both amazing and affordable places to buy bulk spices and herbs online. I have always been happy with my frequent purchases from both stores. The Bulk Herb Store tends to have cheaper shipping, but not quite as big of a selection as MRH.

  17. Anna

    What about Mrs. Dash?

    • Assistant to Food Babe (Janet) (to Anna)

      Read it’s ingredients and make sure it is USDA certified organic. Take care!

      • Leslie (to Assistant to Food Babe (Janet))

        Can you or Vani RECOMMEND WHAT MATERIAL -MORTAR AND PESTLE-IS THE HEALTHIEST AND SAFEST-to grind our spices??? MARBLE? CAST IRON? CERAMIC? STAINLESS STEEL? GRANITE? VOLCANIC LAVA?…. There are soooo many to choose from! Some materials, are much less toxic, than others… PLEASE FIND OUT WHICH KIND IS BEST FOR US TO USE ????!! Thanks so much!!! ; )

  18. Tracy

    What do you think of Full Circle brand?

  19. Darris

    I buy most of my spices in bulk at Whole Foods but I also supplement with herbs and spices from Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon. They are a small family owned company (right down the road from my sister-in-law). Not all of their products are certified organic but they’re a company with a high standard for integrity and I feel I’m getting an honest answer when I ask a question.

  20. Shelley

    What are your thoughts on buying spices at your local spice shop? I buy mine at Savory Spice Shop in Raleigh.

  21. Cindy Burson

    You can purchase in bulk from Frontier, Starwest Botanical, and Mountain Rose without having a resale license.
    I am sorry people are trusting Dr. Oz just because of who he is. He has made mistakes before costing companies many customers. He eventually does apologize but that same group of people did not hear his retraction.
    Just because an authority figures endorses it or says it does not mean they checked out the source.
    Who am I? A natural food retailer who does extensive research on the products I offer.

    • Leslie (to Cindy Burson)

      Fyi- Dr. Oz’s wife Lisa-is EXTREMELY HOLISTIC-and has been so, forever. ( Anti-vaccines, etc…. ) Lisa Oz also, has her OWN healthy, holistic living show on The Veria Channel. ( Holistic TV Channel.) His mother in law is holistic, too. Their daughter, Daphne Oz-a co-host of the food show ” The Chew” on TV-was raised, without EVER having eaten a SINGLE, hot dog. ( Nitrates and Nitrites.) All of their children have been raised holisticallly. Here in New York, Dr. Oz is extremely well respected-as one of the TOP, Cardiac Surgeons, in the country. He is not just some flash in the pan, talk show host. Just remember, how he went after the Apple Juice companies, TWICE-and how he was right and how much resistence he received….

      • Leslie (to Leslie)

        Meaning-he is a LOT more holistically minded, than he lets on. ; ) He is constantly SURROUNDED BY HIS FAMILY AND IS CONSTANTLY REMINDED OF IT-Especially, since his daughter, son in law and brand, new precious grand daughter, all live with him. He wants to make sure EVERYBODY STAYS AS HEALTHY AS POSSIBLE!!

  22. Stacey DAmico

    Hi Vani,
    I am wondering what happened to your article on the Red Ape cinnamon? It used to be here on this page. Is there a reason you may have taken off the information about it?

  23. Darlynn

    Organic is good in most cases except when youre dealing with salmonella poisoning so either way you look at it, you run a risk in eating organic and non organic foods. Plus alot of your so called organic grains have cross contamination. Alot of the foods imported from other countries that say organic doesnt necessarily mean safety!

  24. jae

    boosting metabolism (paprika)… hahaha it is ridiculous.. paprika is 100% GMO

    Paprika is the name of genetically modified named…
    Simply Organic, Frontier, are same company like as L’oreal owns Este lauder, Kiel, etc… (multinational company)..
    Don’t trust kosher they always lie. Koshor company are connect with wallstreet and Jewshish money

  25. jae

    I am testing with Frontier cadamom seeds. I am wondering these will be sprouted or not.
    If you guys are really worry about irradiation, test it !
    I don’t trust ground spices !
    Buy whole seed spices, soak in the water and test those ! always
    If these are not sprouted, It is 100% irradiation or GMO seed

    US goverment alway hide truth. That is why we are hard to buy whole grains in USA.
    _always buy whole grain spices and test and then ground in home and use for your cooking

  26. Laurie (to Doug)

    Thank you, I agree.

  27. Joey (to ingvar)

    If you feel comfortable eating the gmo then go ahead, other reasons about those crops besides the gmos why we want to avoid, some of us want to avoid this and do, well do our best. :) Cheers and eat the quality and choices you want to.


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