Desi Visitor To The US – Part 3

Hello there ,

I’ve been waiting to tell you this ..!

After I last spoke with you, I had some shopping to get done before the upcoming weekend and off we went. Now, this is a warehouse store where you get to shop when you are a paid member with them. One thing about these places is that you get giant quantities at bargain prices. (And you’ll end up eating more than you want to, just because you bought it. Well .. that’s a topic for another day!) But like I said,  the best of us can go down a rabbit hole if we don’t watch out. And this time it was ME!

Here’s what happened.

I needed two items – Basmati Rice and a big bag of baby organic greens like Spinach or Kale. So, I pulled the cart and husband showed the id card and we were in. Right by the entrance was a sampling booth handing out Trail Mix – it’s a mixture of dried fruit and nuts. So, I accepted and Venky said a terse ‘no’. I dismissed it as his grouchiness that comes up when we go shopping! Earlier it was worse, now it shows up only now and then 🙂

Well, I was walking as I was still chomping this, when the next sampling lady was offering some Lemon Tea. It got me curious and I stopped to see that it was a new brand, Uhmm. The lady said how she loves it when she carries it in the car for long drives. I tasted it and moved on. As I was coming out from the produce section and going towards the Rice aisle, there was a big line to taste some Ice cream samples. This wasn’t my thing and I was wanting to get done with shopping and so, took a detour around two other aisles to get to where the Rice was.

Now, here was another sampling booth with almost no takers, w-a-y in the back. And the sample lady was breaking slabs of chocolate and filling them in tiny paper cups. It had specks of green and red and looked very pretty even from far.  Before I knew, I was chatting her up and eating that absolutely beautiful, inviting, divine chocolate! And asking her which aisle it was in!! It felt soo good upon  finding it and then picked up the Rice. My husband was wearing a full blown grouchy expression by this time. I gingerly asked him why – he gave me that look and said “I thought we came here to buy exactly TWO things!!”

So, add this to your shopping smarts list as the #6:

Shop like men – go exactly to where your required item is, in the shop, and refuse samples entirely if you don’t want to be lured in. Two reasons why –

a. It is not rude to refuse it. b. You’ll not miss what you don’t try.

If you’re curious what I fell for, here it is –

It helps to know, sample stations are strategically placed and samples are handed out – not because the stores love you – but to sell it to you in a way you don’t even realize it! We both ate some of that damn chocolate and now he’s hidden it in a safe place. So all’s well 🙂

Ready for label gyan?

There are two important pieces of information on the back of a package.

1. The Nutrition Facts – a nutrition table

2. Ingredients – the list of ingredients in the decreasing order of weight, which sits right below the nutrition table. I tend to start with the ingredient list.

1.Make sure it reads like a list of foodie things which a seven year old can read. Such as this one here:

You absolutely do not want something that feels like it was put together in a chemistry laboratory. Check this one out:

2.Since the ingredients are listed out in the decreasing order of weight in which they’re present, You do NOT want sugar, salt or oil to be your top ingredients.

Now, this is easier said than done. Because often, sugar is not written as plain sugar. They may call it fructose, dextrose, glucose, sucrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, evaporated cane juice, cane sugar, fruit juice concentrate and so on. Apparently, there are close to sixty or so different names for sugar alone!

Fats similarly, comes in many guises. Oils of any kind, hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, are ALL fats. Laughably, even when the front of the package says zero-fat or low-fat, the reality is often the exact opposite of that description.

Salt goes by names such as table salt, sodium, sodium nitrite, sodium benzoate, disodium and so on.

3. It would be great to have the word ‘whole’ before as many ingredients as possible, as this would mean that fiber content is intact. If you spotted the word ‘sprouted’ that would be a huge plus too, as sprouting enriches the nutrient density big time.

Moving on, let’s read the Nutrition Facts, the table you’ll find above the ingredient list. If we used my favorite tortilla example here

1. First look for Calories. This one has, 120 Calories.

2. Make sure that calories coming from Fat is always less than 20% of the total calories. So, 20% of 120 would be 24, and we want it to be less than 24. Now, let’s check! Wonderful, it’s only 15.

3. Then, make sure the Sodium content is the same number (or less) as Calories. This one totally rocks it – it’s Sodium number is 10!

So what this means is, for every serving size mentioned, you’ll get 120 calories. Out of this 15 comes from Fat. This amount of serving will also give you 10 mg of Sodium. ( 2 tortillas is the serving size mentioned on the label)

Next, you know what? Ignore every other number! They just don’t matter.

Let’s see how you do it on your own.

Would you buy this? Why or why not?

Waiting for your answer,


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