Buying consciously

A range of goods that seems to be endless makes it more difficult for consumers to choose products for everyday life. With these tipps you can find your way in the ‚shopping jungle‘ more easily and make your buying decisions more consciously as well as sustainably.

Article from Mon, 29. January 2018

This is how you buy deliberately

The good old shopping list has proven ist worth. It helps us in choosing just the products we really need and reduces impulse buying and things unnecessary to a minimum. In buying only the amounts of which you know that you will consume them quickly, you avoid throwing away spoiled foods and other products that were stored too long and have exceeded their sell-by-date (for example noodles, canned vegetables). As far as possible you should buy fresh products and build up only small stocks. For this reason, take a couple of minutes before hitting the road to the supermarket. Think about what you need most urgent, look into your larders and write down everything

In doing so it can make sense to sort into products groups, for example (1) fruits and vegetables, (2) cereals/ bakery, (3) animal products (meat and dairy), (4) other foods (such as preserves, marmalades, oils etc.) and (5) drugstore/ house/ garden (this includes all body care products, kitchen aids as well as cleaning agents and plants). With a sorted shopping list you can directly go to the respective departments of the store of your choice and thus save time and money

Pay attention to quality. With regard to a balanced nutrition, fresh fruits, vegetables and salads should make up a significant proportion of your purchases. Whenever possible, from non-conventional, organic farming. Organic quality that can meanwhile be found also in discount stores, is a matter of trust. Reliable organic or eco labels in Germany are demeter, Bioland and Naturland. In organic farming the use of mineral fertilizers and pesticides is widely refused. The use of genetically modified plants is generally not allowed. Products from ecological farming must not be added with flavour enhancers (such as glutamate) as well as artificial aroma, colorings and preservatives prior to their sale as organic food

Thanks to the globalization, an overwhelming range of foods and other products from all over the world is available for us. As exciting as it is, you should nevertheless consider the seasonal aspect and think about whether is is really appropriate to buy imported strawberries from Spain or Italy in May and June, when the regional quality is available just in front of your door

In other words: On our fields and in our gardens. And let’s be honest: Strawberries, but also tomatoes, paprika and also cucumbers taste the best in the summer months, because the climate is just perfect for them and the refreshing fruits can develop their full aroma through the full power of the sun. In the autumn and winter months, domestically grown pears and apples for example, which were harvested in fall and stored over winter, help us to cover our demand of vitamin C. This also applies to native vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and green cabbage which are true vitamin C bombs and also contain plenty of minerals and phytonutrients that support our immune system. Lamb’s lettuce is a classic salad in the colder season of the year, tasteful and full of nutrients such as iron, so that the watery and flavorless iceberg lettuce can only lose

If you like to buy processed products, pay attention to the list of ingredients on the packaging. In case ‚sugar‘ ranks very high, you should put the respective product into your shopping basket only once in a while and also consume it only moderately at home. In very limited amounts as well you should consume industrially manufactured products with colorings, aroma and preservatives; unless otherwise stated they can be identified by the E numbers. They refer to components that are approved as food additives in the EU and can be both of synthetic and of natural origin. Some of them are suspected of promoting cancer. An additive that can be found very often in ingredients is beta carotene, the precursor of vitamin A and a colouring that occurs naturally in carrots and sweet potatoes. It is a natural antioxidant and gives the fruits their characteristic orange colour but is produced almost always artificially and then added and declared as colourant E 160a (beta-carotene). For example in margarine

You should completely avoid products with a specific added sugar syrup declared as ‚glucose fructose syrup‘ or ‚isoglucose’. This mass product, produced from genetically modified corn, is used especially in the USA for quite some time now, as a cheap alternative for ‚sugar‘ in drinks, sweets, cakes, puddings and ice creams and there, accompanied by a high consumption of fat, has lead to enormous obesity. But the regular consumption of sugar (as well as of saturated fatty acids in particular) is also much too high in Germany for several years now. With serious consequences for health. Meanwhile, the Germans even rank among the most obese in Europe. In the past year 2017 and in line with the food industry in the EU, import restrictions for isoglucose have lifted, so that it is to be feared that European producers as well will increasingly use this cheap sugar for their products. To the detriment of the European consumers

Isoglucose is even more harmful than regular saccharose (sugar) and stands in close connection with the formation of obesity, fatty liver and diabetes. Initially, it starts quite harmless. With sugary soft drinks, sweets, ice cream etc. The blood glucose level increases rapidly. Our pancreas has to release corresponding amounts of insulin in order to lower the blood sugar again. As a result, we are getting hungry again faster. Then, many of us decide to eat industrial finished products that contain plenty of sugar and also fat which is exactly the wrong thing to do. Because actually, our body demands for food that keeps us full longer and also contains sufficient amounts of micro nutrients including vitamins and minerals

So rather than eating a bit of fresh fruit or whole wheat bread topped with cheese and salad, one again decides to consume ‚fast carbohydrates‘ in the form of sweets. A cycle begins that can have a disastrous ending. The feeling of satiety always lasts only for a short time. When we don’t have plenty of physical activity in addition, the excess of carbohydrates is transformed into fat and stored in the body. Including the liver. On a long-term basis, plenty of isoglucose (sugar in general) burdens our pancreas. Someday, the insulin does no longer work or its production is even completely stopped by the body. The beginning of diabetes. For this reason, you should consume denatured, namely strongly processed products with plenty of added sugar only in very little amounts of even fully avoid them and pay attention to a wholefood diet. Ever since, natural foods are the best for our body

Buying locally and regionally supports the domestic economy consisting of rural producers and growers. It also protects the environment when you buy from providers that dedicated themselves to organic farming in accordance with nature. This also includes animal welfare. If you like to eat eggs, buy organic eggs from free-range hens. A restriction in meat consumption is recommended. Last but not least with regard to the fact that factory farming uses plenty of resources, for example enormous areas of land in South America for the growing of genetically modified soy as feed for animals in Europe

Quality and ecology goes far beyond what we eat and drink. When it comes to cleaning agents for example, you can also refer to well-tried classics. Such as vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). They decalcify, deodorize, works as fungicides and outperform synthetic cleaners by far. The conventional washing agents are also not really necessary. Just like many household cleaners they contain plenty of synthetic fragrances that can cause skin irritations and even allergies. Therefore, pay attention to the declaration here as well and rather choose alternatives with tensides and fragrances on a natural basis. Many body care products such as peelings for the skin and toothpastes contain finest plastic particles that may clean and polish but finally end up in the world oceans and pollute the eco system. Even in the ice of the remote Antarctica these plastic particles were already found. Ground apricot kernels or fine sea sand have the same polishing effect, but are of natural origin

But there are also alternative products for house and garden that contain ‚soft chemistry‘, for example more environment-friendly colours with mineral colour pigments. And it even goes to furniture (best from local woods) and our clothes that we wear directly on our body day to day and which should be free from toxins, for example from chemical bleaching and colouring agents that by the way can be detected by their unpleasant smell (e.g. in case of strongly dyed blue jeans). Thus here it also makes sense to pay attention to quality and workmanship, making yourself familiar with the raw material used and also where and under which conditions the respective product was produced before making your purchase decision

To critically reflect one’s personal consumer behavior and also to question it can be very revealing. As a result, you purchase with a better feeling and even leave products on the store shelf which before you have taken for granted. If you like to buy more sustainably, you should remember: Exports and imports imply longer paths and are always associated with higher costs for energy and transportation that have an effect on the life cycle assessment. This not only applies to the already mentioned fruits and vegetables from Spain and regions further afar, but also to other goods and raw material such as textiles and exotic wood. But also the widely spread palm oil which is contained in foods but natural cosmetic as well and for which rain forests important for the world’s climate have to give way especially in Indonesia and Malaysia

To look for the new in the supermarket because one also needs variety, is perfectly okay. But don’t let yourself mislead by supposed and overly expensive product innovations. Most of what is presented to us in colorful displays is only old wine in new bottles. But just packed differently. Promoted with the appropriate marketing, the manufacturers hope for new sales and you should consider carefully whether this or that new product is really necessary

Another tip from us for you: Whenever possible, never do your shopping when you are very hungry. Hunger entices to buy a great deal too much. Especially foods that are high in carbohydrates and fat. Have breakfast or eat and drink a little before going to the market. This gives you a certain basis of energy and lowers impulse buying