29 July 2017

Everyday Organics with the Kroger Co

Our local flavor of the Kroger Company is called Fred Meyer, and they've been one of the main stores I've shopped at since I was a kid. The Kroger Co. recently started a program called the MyMagazine Sharing Network, where participants who "qualify for missions" can receive free samples in exchange for sharing about the products. Free food is always helpful to our grocery budget, so I was quick to sign up! We just received the box for my first mission, "Organics Everyday." So here's what we tried, and what we thought of it!

In the box were individual-sized bags of Garden of Eatin' ranch and nacho chips, a full-sized bag of organic Tostitos, and a can of Bush's organic chickpeas. There were also coupons for free items that wouldn't have shipped well, like drinks.

We portioned out the Garden of Eatin' chips over several lunches. "So, healthy Doritos?" Matt laughed when he saw them, and yes, that's pretty much what they are; my kids have never had Doritos, though—any chips at all are a rare treat in our house—so I can't say whether they would have preferred one over the other, but they did enjoy these. Little Bear and Kit both liked the ranch version, and Kit enjoyed the nacho ones. Baby deemed the nacho ones non-offensive as well, which was a pleasant surprise, because lately I've had trouble finding anything to eat that doesn't make me feel sick.

The Tostitos taste like Tostitos... They're fine; like I said, we don't usually eat chips, so it's been a bit of a conundrum figuring out what to do with them all. I'm hoping that the baby is up for some fresh salsa, because I'm planning to run by the farmers market this afternoon and see if anyone has tomatoes. That sounds like a good accompaniment for tortilla chips!

The kids love helping me make hummus, and helping me eat it, but they run and hide in the other room when I turn on the food processor. One of these days, I'll manage to convince Little Bear that it's not that loud; he would have more fun helping in the kitchen, I know, if he wasn't scared of the noise it makes. We made up a quick batch of hummus with the chickpeas we received, and everyone has been enjoying it with raw veggies.

One thing that frustrates me greatly is how most brands that sell canned goods use BPA in the linings of their cans. When was the last time you saw a plastic container intended for food prep or storage that didn't say "BPA-free" on it? "BPA-free" is practically synonymous, in public perception at least, with "safe for use with food/drink." But how many brands of canned goods do you see the BPA-free label on? Hunt's, the tomato company, is one. I think I saw it recently on some Del Monte fruits, too. But most beans, vegetables, and canned meats, even organic varieties, are still being packed and subjected to high heat/pressure in cans lined with BPA. 

So when we got organic chickpeas in a can that didn't say BPA-free, I called the customer service line for Bush's to ask about it. And it turns out that they are now using cans with BPA-free linings for all of their beans! The lady I spoke with wasn't sure why they don't advertise the fact, but assured me that there was no BPA. I'm so glad! I try to use dried beans in my cooking anyway, but I usually keep a few cans of pre-cooked beans around for just-in-case times, and up until this point the only BPA-free beans I'd found are a bit more expensive and are only stocked by stores that are inconvenient for us to shop at. And I grew up eating Bush's baked beans, and have not yet managed to find a recipe for homemade baked beans that we like better.

There were coupons for a couple of types of teas and a soda? Carbonated lemonade? I'm not sure. I couldn't find them at the store, but honestly, they're not things we would buy anyway. That's true of almost everything we received, other than the chickpeas, though the kids were excited about the chips. But the "most appreciated item in the box" award goes to a sheaf of coupons for free/discounted items from Horizon Organics, which among other things sells half gallons of milk. I wish I could say that I tasted a difference between conventional and organic milk, but baby didn't like the granola I poured it over yesterday, so the best I can tell you is that it's good milk. At the rate we use milk, given that the baby isn't currently letting me make/eat yogurt (why, child?!?) and doesn't love granola, I shouldn't need to buy milk again until mid-August, at least!

If the Kroger Company was trying to use the "Organics Everyday" mission to encourage people to eat healthy or to show off the healthful options they offer, I think they missed the mark a little with their selection of samples; the chickpeas and milk are great, but everything else... organic junk food is still junk food, you know? But they do offer a lot of other healthy and organic options in their stores, and I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to learn about the Bush's cans, and grateful to not have to pay for milk for a while! 

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