Healthy shops selling unhealthy food

You’d think that healthy shops would sell only the healthiest foods possible wouldn’t you? Not processed food or ‘fake’ food made to look healthy. If only that were the case…

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Now, don’t get me wrong here – I have no doubt that health shops, farmshops and all manner of other healthy looking shops have the very best of intentions for their business – selling their own rare breed meat, home-grown fruit and veg, ‘real’ free range eggs and other brilliant ideas that allow us to buy the very best food that hasn’t been messed about with. But naturally, they do have to make a living and that inevitably means buying-in a lot of their produce from wholesalers as well as selling healthy-looking foods in rustic healthy-looking packaging – which when you check it out – it’s anything but.

For example, not so long ago, I visited the quaint little town of Bakewell in Derbyshire, and I really looked forward to a browse around the famous Bakewell Pudding Shop where they sell their home-made real Bakewell puddings. Many people love them – and rightly so – but in their shop they also sell an assortment of other baked items including Bakewell tarts. Now, the Bakewell tart doesn’t really have anything to do with the town itself, but if – like me – you prefer it to Bakewell Pudding, then you might just be tempted to buy one whilst it’s namesake’s town.

But whoa! Check out the ingredients! I’d expected this pie in it’s rustic packing with it’s rustic label in it’s warm and friendly shop environment to be home-made too. Except, on checking the label I found all manner of E-numbers, preservatives, colourings, flavourings – you name it! I would have been better off buying a pack of Mr Kiplings – seriously!

Recently too, I had a wonder around my local Holland and Barrett store – believing them to sell real honey (from actual local bees). Not a chance! I was shocked to see that they only sell the same old ‘sugar syrup’ in squeezy plastic bottles that you get in the supermarket. This is stuff that has no nutritional values whatsoever (and you can read more about that here). You might as well save your cash and just serve-up plain ol’ sugar instead.

And, on an early morning walk (at the only time of day a busy Mum can get any peace, quiet and exercise!) – a walk which takes me past a lovely rustic-looking butcher’s shop in the high street – I was amazed to see a catering van pulling up with it’s delivery of mass produced meat. Not the local meat I was assuming that the shop always sold (and that I’d been happily buying with my misguided assumption). To be fair, yes, this shop does sell locally reared meat too – but it turns out that not every single item in that shop is worthy of such a title, and certainly not the pies, pasties and other baked goods on sale that I’d assumed were locally made – although nothing says they are, so the shop isn’t fibbing, they’re just refraining from mentioning it.

The same delivery van then proceeded to deliver to other shops, pubs and mini-market.

So, the moral of the tale here is to never assume that a healthy looking shop must contain nothing but healthy food. Support your local shops, of course (I’m 100% all for that), but remember to choose what you buy wisely. Check the label for mystery ingredients just as you would in a supermarket, and ask the staff where their produce comes from and if it’s really local and free range or just bought-in from elsewhere. And for packaged items, if there’s something you don’t recognise in the ingredients, don’t buy it.


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  • All about food – Where it comes from, what they put into it, how it gets from farm to fork, and why it should be organic, fair trade, local and seasonal.
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