When I wrote this guide, it had been a few weeks since I shared my posts about The Dangers of Seed Oils and Why I Quit Oat Milk. I received an overwhelmingly positive response, with hundreds of questions and comments. Most of them being: ‘Okay, so I will stop consuming seed oils, but what can I eat/buy?’ or ‘It takes me so long to scan all the labels when shopping, I do not have time for it all,’ and finally, ‘Is it going to be expensive?’
I have been there. In June/July of 2022, when I made the commitment to this lifestyle change, I spent countless hours and days researching safe brands and scanning labels while shopping. Shopping organic, seed oil-free, and processed-free, does not have to be overwhelming or overly time consuming, you just need to know what to look for.
In this guide, I am going to talk about ingredients to avoid, brands I trust, places to source the best foods, and everyone’s favorite: recommended snacks.
Let’s start with a list of ingredients that must be avoided at all costs:
The above listed ingredients do not cover everything, there are many more. But, if you don’t recognize the ingredient, the chances are your body doesn’t either. The ingredients I listed are among the most common ingredients you will find when shopping and scanning labels.
I really want to stress to NOT be a victim of marketing the way I was.
I really want to stress to NOT be a victim of marketing the way I was. Just because something ‘looks’ healthy, designed with pretty labels/boxes, using buzzwords like ‘organic’ or ‘artisan’ or ‘handcrafted’ or ‘low fat/carb/sugar’ does NOT necessarily make it healthy. In fact, you might find seed oils in a large percentage of packaged ‘organic’ items!
I often source my food from many different places, but you don’t necessarily need to. We shop for our food from the following places:
- 1. Grocery Stores – Whole Foods, Costco, Publix, Milam’s, and more
- You can typically find #megapproved items at your local grocery store, and yes Costco has plenty of great items!
- 2. Farmers Markets
- I cannot stress the importance of going to the farmers market and buying local! Support your local farmers and save money in the process.
- 3. The Internet
- You’d be surprised at the amazing selection when you purchase online!
It is very important to make sure that you’re using quality, organic ingredients. Not all ‘non-gmo’ vs ‘USDA organic’ labels are created equal. Here’s a quick cheat sheet from The Food Babe:
Here’s what to look for:
- 1. With red meat, it is important to look for pasture raised, 100% grass fed/finished meat. It MUST say at least one of these things. You do not want meat from cattle who were raised and slaughtered in very hostile environments with increased adrenaline, potential diseases and no outside space- it drastically diminishes the quality of the meat. You can genuinely taste the difference. Additionally, grain finished meats have increased exposure to mycotoxins, microplastics, PFAs, and other contaminants that would not be in the grass fed meat due to the grain feed they are given prior to harvest.
2. With poultry (chicken AND eggs), it MUST say pasture raised and/or organic. When it only says ‘not fed antibiotics or hormones,’ or ‘cage free’ or ‘free range,’ that is NOT enough. ‘Pasture raised’ chickens/hens have approximately 108 square feet vs the 1 square foot that a ‘free range’ chicken/hen has. The pasture raised chickens and hens have 108x more space than cage free poultry. Cage free is misleading because the hens may never see the outside for up to a year or more, and are in a barn or warehouse with little to no room, also in a hostile environment. I am going to elaborate on the importance of pasture raised eggs in a separate post.
3. With pork/bacon products, it MUST say milk or acorn fed and/or pasture raised. You might find ‘corn’ and/or ‘soy free’ on the label instead of the former, which is also acceptable. Like humans, when pigs are fed corn, soy, and seed oils in their feed, they accumulate the PUFAs (that I talked about here) in their fat, which we then eat, making it toxic for us. This is harder to find in stores than poultry and red meat products, but it is so important to ensure you’re buying the right kind of pork products.
4. With fish, it must say, ‘wild-caught!’ Most farm raised fish is contaminated with heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury, arsenic, lead and microplastics. Very important to have wild caught fish!
Where do I get most of my meat?
- 1. I personally get most of my meat from Force of Nature meats online. I purchase about months worth of meat in one order so that I can obtain free shipping. Every single item on their site is #megapproved. Click here for a discount at checkout or use code MEGMB
- 2. I absolutely love Force of Nature because they partner with ranchers in Texas who practice regenerative agriculture. Read about the importance of regenerative farming here!
- 3. I absolutely love Force of Nature and everything I have ever tried from them, but my all time favorites are the ground bison, ground elk (elk chili recipe coming soon!), venison chops, bison jalapeño cheddar sausage and beef tenderloin steaks.
- 4. What is also amazing about their offerings is that they have ancestral blends for ground meats, which contain both liver and heart, providing nose to tail nutrition and making it an even more nutrient dense food. Their ancestral ground beef is the best tasting (and selling) of the ancestral blends if you decide to go that route.
Where do I get my dairy?
- 1. I typically obtain raw dairy from the farmers market or my underground raw dairy ring (you read that correctly). If you have not seen my raw dairy deals, follow along on my instagram highlight.
- 2. When I am in the northeast, I get my raw dairy from Dutch Meadows Farms. They are lovely Mennonites who deliver their farm fresh goods to a location near you in the tristate area. Click here for a discount link on your first purchase with Dutch Meadows.
- 3. If you are in California, Washington, New Mexico, Utah, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, or Maine, you can actually purchase raw milk in retail stores – raw dairy from Raw Farm by Organic Pastures is my recommendation.
- 4. When I run out of raw dairy, I resort to Alexandre Organic Whole Milk, Organic Valley Grassmilk 100% Grass Fed Whole Milk or Maple Hill Creamery 100% Grass Fed Whole Milk → these are the top 3 brands I trust when buying grass fed pasteurized milk.
Where do I get everything else?
- Personally, because we are currently living in a condo in the city, we get about half of our groceries through Amazon prime or Instacart, but you can certainly find many trusted grocery items at other grocery stores. The remaining half of our groceries are typically from the Coconut Grove Saturday Farmer’s Market and online purchases.
#megapproved Trusted Brands for Kitchen Staples and SNACKS:
- 1. Kettle & Fire: use code MEGCONNOLLY for 20% off
- 2. Jackson’s Chips Discount with MEGMB at checkout
- 3. Masa Chips Click here for 10% off at check out or use code MEGMB
- 4. Fabula Coffee Click here for a discount at checkout.
- 5. Hu Kitchen
- 6. LoveBird Click here for 10% off or use code MEGMB at checkout
- 7. Siete Foods
- 8. Vital Farms
- 9. Primal Kitchen
- 10. Chosen Foods
- 11. Lesser Evil
- 12. EPIC Provisions
- 13. Carnivore Crisps – Discount at checkout or use MEGMB
- 14. Maple Hill Creamery
- 15. White Oak Pastures
- 16. Hail Merry
- 17. Emmy’s Organics
- 18. Organic Valley *ONLY Their grassfed products!
- 19. Raw Farm (if you are in California, you can get all of their products, but if you are nationwide, you can get their cheese)
- 20. Alexandre Family Farm
The list keeps growing due to awareness of these ancestral ways.
While I was conducting my research on the average American consumer, I was appalled to find that the top items on Americans’ grocery list includes soda, frozen tv dinners and cereal. Below I have added safe swaps to the majority of the top 10 items on Americans’ grocery list:
- 1. Bread
- 2. Packaged meat
- 3. Peanut/Nut Butter
- 4. Eggs
- 5. Laundry Detergent
- 6. Milk
- 7. Salty Snacks
- 8. Frozen Dinners
- 9. Cereal
- 10. Soda
To conclude, once you know what to look for, shopping for healthier options doesn’t need to be complicated! Ultimately, what has worked for me is to go back to basics, choosing items with as little ingredients as possible. I encourage you to use this as a guide and do your own research to make healthier options for you and your family.
I would love to hear your feedback on some of the items listed if you end up purchasing. If you share on social, please tag me so we can all amplify this healthier lifestyle together. It’s a journey!
*This is not medical advice, I encourage you to do your own research the way I did to make these decisions for yourself/family