Grocery Shopping Follow Up and Tips on How to Make Decisions When Information is Conflicting
April 6, 2020 By Julie Lanford MPH, RD, CSO, LDN
Last week, I brought you the "down and dirty" on the current science regarding grocery shopping and food safety regarding viruses. It is a topic of much interest! If you missed it, find it here:
Buying Groceries in a Pandemic: Don’t Stress Over That Video!!
I had a lot of responses via email, comments and social media.
- Most people were grateful for the information as the ideas that some are recommending were causing them excess stress and anxiety!
- Some people felt like “why not wipe them down”?
- A few people were not so happy with me and the recommendation not to follow the exhaustive procedure for processing the groceries at home as if it was a surgery.
These varying responses remind me of many “hot topics” I have discussed before on this website. Things like organic foods, GMO’s, sugar and various fad diets. There can be a lot of contradicting information from various professionals, friends and social media contacts.
Some of what I noticed in comments and feedback is the fact that people will make different choices when given the exact same information. And there’s no reason that we need to guilt or shame someone else for the decisions they make for themselves and their families.
So I decided to share with you some of the tips I use for myself and my clients to help people navigate decision making regarding controversial topics!
Making decisions with contradicting information.
The biggest challenge for all of us right now is finding our place of peace and confidence when it comes to our decisions on how to care for ourselves and our families. That is my bottom line goal for my clients!
Here are some of my tips for managing this:
1. Get your information from evidence based resources.
It’s fine to listen to one person’s opinion. However, even a professional opinion, like mine, or a physician’s, should be backed by science. If you are following an expert opinion, look for the references and resources they point you to. If you can’t find them, that’s not a good sign!
2. Get your information from people and places that do not raise your blood pressure or stress levels.
Making decisions is hard enough without taking on someone else’s stress. If you find that recommendations are overwhelming you, then look elsewhere for information to guide you in decision making.
Many people and organizations use an “urgent” and “breaking” tone in order to get more views. Sometimes this tone can increase the sense of anxiety. I recommend finding sources of information that are calming and empowering.
On a similar note, Check out my article on How to Read Nutrition News Without Losing Your Mind!
3. Be honest with yourself about what is practical.
We all have different life situations and what is practical for one person, might not be practical for another!
Some people have more time right now. If you’re not working or have no children at home, you’re probably facing a lot of free time since all activities are canceled. Commutes are non existent, which can offer some extra time.
However, some of us are just as busy as ever thanks to never ending “work from home” and children around 24/7. My co-worker has 5 children who are under 12 years old, so she and her husband need to shop and feed a family of 7 while working full time from home with no additional childcare. Time is a major limiting factor for them!
In addition, many people are in the high risk group for becoming ill and need to take the extra precautions into mind when making decisions.
Obviously, what is practical for these groups of people will be different!
4. Be confident in your choice for today and be open to change!
For some topics, there is one clear “right answer.” Following laws, getting vaccinated, eating fruits and vegetables are obvious ones.
For most topics, there are a few different good choices. And especially in times like we are in right now, recommendations will change! We all need to be flexible to change our minds when new information comes out.
In the case of grocery shopping right now, here are some responses that I have heard from followers:
- I’ll avoid the grocery store but treat my groceries like normal once I pick up, or have them delivered.
- I like to pick my own food out and will continue to go to the grocery store and use a mask, and wipes while there. When I get home I will treat my groceries like normal.
- I’m taking every precaution possible and will discard all packaging before coming in the house, and wipe down all other packaging. I will avoid fresh produce and stick to canned or frozen.
- I will have someone bring me groceries and then leave the shelf stable items it in my garage or porch for 24 hours before bringing in the house.
As a reminder, it is not recommended that you wash your produce with soap as it can upset the stomach. (From this source, it suggests that the physician in the video is going to alter that recommendation).
The best way to wash produce is with water, and a scrub brush, for foods with dirt on them (potatoes, carrots, and other root veggies). I use a vegetable scrub brush and wash it in the dishwasher to sanitize it.
The only major thing I would recommend is that if you want to wash your produce with soap, it would make the most sense to do that with things that you don’t eat the skin (bananas, cantaloupe, avocado).
Certainly for things like broccoli and leafy greens, I would not wash with soap! If you’re concerned about those, it might be better to buy them frozen.
Additional Recommended Information on Grocery Store Safety.
Check out these other places that have covered the topic. Or if you’re tired of it already, don’t check them out!
- Sound Bytes Food Safety and Coronavirus Podcast with Melissa Joy Dobbyns.
- Your coronavirus grocery questions, answered by experts
- NPR interview about grocery shopping
Other fun food safety resources!
- I love this podcast “Risky or Not” where food scientists give their assessment of various food items and whether they are safe or not!