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The Rant: A Monday Morning View - Grocery Stores

Updated on February 10, 2013
© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.
© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Yeah, I know, you're probably saying, gee, can't she rant about something besides grocery stores. I could but you know, they are the easiest source for something to rant about. I can find something on almost every isle to make my brain go - POP!

The cereal isle is the victim of of A Monday Morning Rant this week, to be specific - I'm going to rant about oatmeal and how the grocery stores manipulate our brains.

My trip to the store over the weekend was the normal weekly run. I had a short list of mostly cleaning and paper products. Although I haven't made a complete transition to green living, I'm working on it. I needed some toilet paper, white vinegar, baking soda, and a few other little odds and ends. As I made my way down the cereal isle I found myself just browsing the shelves; for what, I'm not sure. And there it was, my subject - oatmeal.

Take a look at the photo. Does anything speak to you? Maybe not because we are so accustomed to the brainwashing that we hardly notice anymore. I understand that marketing requires creativity and that bright colors, catchy packaging, and yummy descriptions have eye appeal. So why don't we stop and wonder what's hiding behind the packaging? I think it's because we are bombarded with so many images that we are brainwashed into thinking that it must be good for us or it wouldn't be on the shelf in the first place.

So, I looked at the oatmeal display and the first thing I noticed was that there are four shelves measuring about 9 feet in length packed full of instant oatmeal, in every flavor imaginable. That's 36 total feet of instant oatmeal. Now, look at the photo again. How much space is left for whole oats? There is one pitiful little shelf, on the BOTTOM, measuring about 5 feet for the plain Old Fashioned Quaker Oats.

Now it's no secret that I have a wild imagination and that on a bad day I can submerge myself into all kinds of conspiracy theories. That oatmeal display plunged me into a deep dark world of hidden agenda. For a few moments I lost all track of time and allowed my mind to drift into the world of marketing and design. I wondered, who IS at the helm of this effort to keep us, the average citizen in the most powerful country in the world, toxic.

That's when I realized that I'm no nutritionist. I wasn't sure I knew what I was talking about, so I took a closer look. What I discovered proved my theory that 36 feet of instant oatmeal is far less healthy than 5 feet of Old Fashioned oatmeal. I compared the nutrition facts on both packages. Without going into all the details, I'll just tell you about the ones that jumped out at me.

NUTRITION INFORMATION
Peaches & Cream Instant Oatmeal
Old Fashioned Oatmeal
 
Serving Size: 1 packet (43 grams)
Serving Size: 1/2 cup (40 grams)
Calories
130
150
Calories from fat
20
25
Total fat
2.0 g
3 g
Sodium
180 mg
0 mg
Potassium
95 mg
0 mg
Sugars
12 g
1 g
Dietary Fiber
2 g
4 g
Ingredients:
WHOLE GRAIN ROLLED OATS, SUGAR, CREAMING AGENT (MALTODEXTRIN, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN OIL**, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, WHEY, SODIUM CASEINATE, SUGAR, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, ARTIFICIAL COLOR, SALT, SOY LECITHIN, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR), FLAVORED AND COLORED FRUIT PIECES (DEHYDRATED APPLES [TREATED WITH SODIUM SULFITE TO PROMOTE COLOR RETENTION], ARTIFICIAL PEACH FLAVOR, CITRIC ACID, ANNATTO COLOR), SALT, CALCIUM CARBONATE, GUAR GUM, OAT FLOUR, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, NIACINAMIDE*, REDUCED IRON, VITAMIN A PALMITATE, PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE*,
100% NATURAL WHOLE GRAIN QUAKER QUALITY ROLLED OATS.

Okay, so there's nothing earth shattering there but, if you purchase the Old Fashioned Oatmeal, you get ten times more product, no sodium or potassium, and, you get a pure, whole oat product with no preservatives or additives. You also get a lot less sugar and more fiber.

So, what's missing? Fruit taste. Why wouldn't you want to just add your own raw, fresh fruit and avoid those funny little bits of dehydrated, dyed morsels that are only "pretend" fruit?

I'm not a rocket scientist either but, I really think we are being fooled in the name of convenience and slick packages and the price we are going to pay for it is - a shortened and lower quality life.

I wonder what would happen if we all slowed down for just an hour and actually studied the products we are putting in our shopping cart. There are alternatives and they are not only safer and better for us, but they are often a lot less expensive too.

Well, I'll wrap this up. I didn't buy any oatmeal this week but, when I do, can you guess which product will go in my cart?

Thought so. Happy shopping!

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

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  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello teaches12345! Thnks for the visit today. I am buying less and less from the grocer and more and more from the food coop or the farmer's market. It takes a little more effort and I'm not perfect at it but my gosh food tastes so much better than when it comes from a can or box.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Mary, thanks for reading this one. Wasn't that chart interesting? I continue to be amazed at what we're putting into our bodies in the name of preservatives and convenience. I'm going to look for your recipe too. It sounds yummy.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

    When I go to the grocery store my cart is practically empty. I avoid buying processed food as much as possible. Yes, check the labels -- you never know what you are actually eating! Great post.

  • mary615 profile image

    Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

    I grew up on old fashioned Rolled Oats! When the day is chilly I still reach for them. My favorite cookie is a oatmeal cookie. I have a great recipe for a cookie where you toast the oats ( I wrote a Hub on that). I loved your nutritional chart. What an eye opener.

    I voted this Hub UP, and will share.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello Giselle. It's good tohear you have a local grocer making some changes. I hope it spreads like wildfire. Thanks for reading!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi oceansider. I really appreciate your reading and addint to the conversation. The grocery stores give us plenty to rant about don't they? I'm off now to have a breakfast "just" like yours. :-)

  • profile image

    Giselle Maine 5 years ago

    Yeah, your example of oats is just one of many things that are 'wrong' about grocery stores. One time I went and they had a store promotion of buy a certain number of specially marked store-wide food items and get a lower price on these. I found that the vast, vast majority of these marked items were not at all healthy! They were things like Hamburger Helper, which has lots and lots of artificial ingredients, and other products like that. There was maybe one or two healthy cereals in the promotion, but just about everything else was stuff that I just would never buy due to it being unhealthy. Now I'm making a lot more stuff from scratch - my youngest requests my home-made bread rolls (they freeze fine) - would you believe it, he calls it 'real bread'. It gives me a lot of satisfaction (and makes me 'immune' to any fancy marketing) when I make things from scratch for my family. A superb hub!

    On the plus side though, the grocery store I go to is putting out a new healthy store brand which is free of artifical flavors, colors and preservatives - kudos to them for making this important change! This is not a specialty store but a mainstream one, which I honestly never thought they would do. Here's hoping more of this to come.

  • profile image

    oceansider 5 years ago

    This was a very good article...and I agree that it's important to read labels and to know what you're going to be consuming.....As far as oatmeal goes, I love plain rolled oats and eat them with fruit & nuts most mornings....what a power breakfast that is! ......the instant oats are O.K. if there's nothing else available.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Kellyteam. Thanks for stopping by and reading the hub. I'm an oatmeal lover too and although I do still have a partial box of instant in the cupboard, I prefer the real thing . Thanks for your comments.

  • kellyteam profile image

    Willette 5 years ago from Michigan

    Good Job! You're right. We do need to read labels more often. I have never took a fancy to the instant oats. Give me the real thing any day of the week. I love oatmeal. This is a very useful hub. Thumbs up, awesome and a share.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    lol !

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

    Meet me in the Widow's Peak at 8:00. We look for shooting stars!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    You nut! I was playing pool and had the stereo cranked up. You know when those quad, supersonic speakers are going that hearing is impossible.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

    I've been looking for assignments (got one today) and trying to catch up on hubmail. Still trying..... I'm a little behind. Making a (meager) living has to come first!

    I've been waiting for you in the office over the three car garage. Didn't you hear me over the intercom??? ha ha!!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    I'm getting there Shauna, a little at a time. lol This was a real eye opener. Where have you been the lat couple of day? :-)

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 5 years ago from Central Florida

    Hear, hear Linda! It's much easier to make a bowl of whole oats, add some fresh blueberries or strawberries and shake some cinnamon over it. Even add some walnuts! You eliminate the need for sugar, get omega3's from the nuts, antioxidants from the fresh fruit, fiber from the oatmeal (plus it's heart healthy) and cinnamon contributes to your metabolism!

    Using flavored oatmeal as a microwave excuse? Guess what? Quaker now includes nuke instructions on the tube! No excuse my friends. Laziness and the convenience foods that go with it are what makes one fat and unhealthy!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks for reading and adding to the dialogue Angela. We certainly need to stay on our toes anymore if we want a bargain and healthy food. I appreciate your reading and commenting.

  • Angela Blair profile image

    Angela Blair 5 years ago from Central Texas

    Faster and easier seem to blot out more healthful and nutritious these days -- on every level. I've also noticed that oatmeal (the old fashioned kind) had gone up at my grocery store by about 50-60% in the last year. Oatmeal used to be a great, inexpensive, healthful breakfast for one's family -- now that's a toss-up for sure. Interesting and well written Hub -- Best/Sis

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Helena. Thank you so much for reading and supporting this effort. Change is never easy but in this case, it is so worth it.

  • Helena Ricketts profile image

    Helena Ricketts 5 years ago from Indiana

    People really do need to take the time to read the labels on what they buy at the grocery store. I started doing that years ago and realized exactly how much toxic and garbage food there is out there. We have been able to break away from buying the majority of our food at the store, we grow it ourselves or go strictly USDA Certified Organic. Even the word "natural" is misleading hog wash.

    Great hub! It will no doubt enlighten anyone who reads it to actually check what they are eating.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi MizB! I'm no better than anyone else. I have instant oatmeal in my cabinet too. But, something in the universe is trying to tell me to start reading and get healthier. It will be an evolutionary process for me too but I have to start somewhere. Reading the labels is enough to scare me. :-)

    Thanks for the vote up and compliment.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi shiningirisheyes! I think we would all be surprised if we only had/took the time to read. Thanks for visiting!

  • MizBejabbers profile image

    MizBejabbers 5 years ago

    You are a very astute lady who makes some excellent points. I do think that a lot of it is about the kids, but not all. I opened my "stash" drawer this morning and one of the first things staring at me was instant oatmeal. I think about half the employees in my office keep a box handy, so it really is about the convenience. I love the real thing, though, and that is what we eat at home. Just before I read this hub, I had a conversation with a coworker who is converting to all organic foods and going wheat free and she urged me to do the same. When she told me what it was costing her, I replied that I would when I could get space for my own garden and raise my own chickens. Voted you up ++.

  • shiningirisheyes profile image

    Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

    Having recently been educated on the unhealthy ingredients my "healthy" labeled food has, this does not surprise me.

    Great research and insight.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Curiad! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I could not agree more. What I love most about HP is that is gives our voice a wider audience and connects us with others who validate our thoughts and, encourage us to think deeper. I really appreciate you spending time on my rant.

  • Curiad profile image

    Mark G Weller 5 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

    Great rant Linda, the marketing industry is amazing and the damage to society is neverending.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello Running Deer! Thank you for stopping by and reading. I use to buy the instant stuff too. But when I started thinking about all the chemicals we are consuming, I started looking for alternatives. I think we all would if we just read a few labels and paid attention to what we are eating.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Carol7777! Thanks for the comment. You're right. If one person changes their mind, we've done our job.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Good morning Rich. Don't get me started on parents who care. lol I'll just rant on Tuesday and we don't want that. Thanks for reading and commenting. You added a new dimension.

  • RunningDeer profile image

    RunningDeer 5 years ago from Iowa

    Ha I work in a grocery store. It's definitely about selling mass amounts of the quick and easy foods to make a buck. No one cares what is inside. If it's a good deal, then they buy it. I haven't even really thought about it myself. I buy instant oatmeal...uh oh, I've been scammed by my own scamming! Very interesting rant. Definitely something to think about!

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

    For one who hates anything instant I really relate to this. Imagine all the foreign substances we are ingesting.. Pretty awful.. You did a formidable joband this information that must be shared..Even if one person stops buying this stuff. Voted UP also.

  • rcrumple profile image

    Rich 5 years ago from Kentucky

    Linda - Good Rant. One of the major reasons parents buy packaged servings is that they have the kids make their own breakfasts, instead of doing it for them. Many would rather the kids do it than to be bothered. Empty pkg, add water, microwave, and take it to your computer to eat without bothering mom or dad. And, it's a warm breakfast. What more could a kid ask for? Oh yeah, how about parents who care? Great Job!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hey Mhatter99! I think it's our nature to just want to be heard by someone so your experience with the oil company does'n't surprise me. As for a solution, I think maybe it is happening in spite of us. As more and more people become aware of what is in these products we call food, more are turning to the healthier alternatives. I'm doing it but admit that I'm slow about it. When the need decreases, hopefully the supply will dry up and we will be left with the healthy alternatives. I know, I'm dreaming but, I've always been a dreamer. lol

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

    When I worked t that oil company I learned if one listens to the customer, we can sell them anything... and they will happily buy it! It is really frightening. Solution.... ????

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 5 years ago from Central Virginia

    I think they have gotten use to it Bill. I carry the camera everywhere I go. lol It really is amazing, if you just slow down and really look at what is happening. But I get that most people are living in overdrive and it's all about convenience. The sad part is that something as simple as oatmeal gets overlooked. It takes me no longer to fix a bowl of whole oats than it does to open a package, boil the water, and wait for the instant to saturate. What a world.

    I'm so glad you're free of that world and can do what you do best - write and make the world a better place. We're on it, aren't we? The food industry will me at our mercy when we're done. :-) Have a great evening friend.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

    By the time you and I get through with the food industry, nobody will buy anything from a grocery store ever again. What a crock of shi_!

    Marketing at its finest; is it any wonder I got out of the business world as fast as possible?

    Great job Linda! Did anybody look at you strange when you were taking pictures of the oatmeal display? LOL

    bill