A young couple passed by me in the grocery store the other day. I heard the woman remind her partner, “Remember, we are only shopping the perimeter.” You may have heard the same advice that she was presumably referencing, that purchasing foods only from the store’s perimeter is somehow healthier than including the interior aisles. Like much of pop culture’s nutritional advice, this tip is an overgeneralization that, if followed, can cause people to unnecessarily skip plenty of healthy foods.
The stick-to-the-perimeter advice has some merit in that it encourages people to load up on fruits, vegetables, dairy, seafood, and poultry, which are traditionally located on a store’s borders. The advice also tends to reduce the temptations to which people are exposed. In other words, somebody who might buy Oreos on impulse is spared that temptation by entirely avoiding the cookie aisle.
Just because a food resides on the perimeter, however, does not mean it is one of the healthier foods in the store. For example, guess what my neighborhood Whole Foods has on the perimeter: the bakery section! Even on the perimeter, we are still subjected to temptations and less healthy foods mixed in with the rest. In other words, the store’s perimeter is like the rest of life: we have to be able to make sensible and balanced food choices wherever we go.
As I considered what this woman said to her partner, I thought about some of the healthy foods they were missing, foods that not only would they never buy, but that they would never even see. I went down the interior aisles a bit slower than usual, deliberately taking some time to explore the inventory and to consider some of the healthier options available and how one might choose to utilize them.
Following this entry will be a short blog series in which I am going to share some of my interior aisle reflections with you. As I write, I will avoid singling out products by name, as I do not want anybody to mistake these musings as endorsements. I invite you to post comments, including mentions of some of your favorite interior aisle foods and how you use them.
Next installment, we begin with the freezer aisle . . .