There is a growing divide between real food and what’s actually for sale in supermarkets around the country. When you think about the billions of dollars poured into commercials for frosted mini-wheats, toaster strudel, and Jimmy Dean sausage muffins, all promising to give you the best possible start to your day, you might wonder why they need to try so hard to convince you in the first place. If a food is good for you, shouldn’t that be perfectly evident from the get-go?
If you’d rather make your own diet choices, independent of the manic advertising, then maybe it’s time to explore the bulk aisle. Consider it a throwback to older, simpler times, when you could just buy exactly the amount of the ingredient you wanted. Bulk bins have been a timeless fixture of health food stores because they embody the very notion of making healthy choices. Each bin has an individual ingredient that is raw or minimally processed and free of preservatives. In the bulk aisle, you won’t see labels saying “may contain less than 2%” of a host of useless additives. In a word, you know exactly what you are buying.
Bulk buying may not be as convenient as grabbing a box off the shelf, but it is a much healthier way to shop – for you and the environment. Before you start to say ‘high maintenance,’ let’s take a look at what you’ll need. Bulk sections will always provide plastic bags, scales, and twist-ties to help you scoop and weigh the bulk foods. Once you’re home, it’s much tidier to store the bulk foods in Tupperware, Snapware, Glassware, an old glass jar, anything that has a lid to snap shut and keep out the air. This way your food will stay fresh much longer. See, that wasn’t so much work! And now for the grub.
The bulk department is the ideal place to start planning your raw, vegan, gluten-free, or otherwise totally nutritious menu. You are probably used to seeing the bulk aisle staples like whole grains and grain flours, beans, and seeds, but a really decent bulk aisle should also have sprouted grains, sprouted grain flours, and sprouted beans and seeds.
Raw and gluten-free eaters can sprout their grains to break apart the gluten and unleash the vitamins and enzymes in raw food. You can also sprout lentils and beans. If you are new to sprouting, you don’t need a special kind of grain or legume. Mung beans are mung beans and sprouting is the same thing as soaking overnight.
For those who are strictly gluten-free, make full use of the bulk aisle and try grains and pseudo-grains like millet, kamut, buckwheat, quinoa, and amaranth. These work great as wheat and rice substitutes in a pilaf, risotto, salad, or tabouleh.
A truly impressive bulk aisle will have an array of superfoods, from cacao powder and cacao nibs, to chlorella, lucuma, maca, and mesquite powder. You can mix those powders with whey protein or hemp protein powder, soy lecithin granules, white or black chia seeds, goji berries, white mulberries, gooseberries, or organic freeze-dried açai powder. You can make your own high-potency superfoods drink without ever leaving the bulk aisle!
Don’t forget to check out bulk herbs before you make your next curry or herbal tisane. You can use these herbs for just about anything. Soak in a bath of lavender flowers to soothe sore muscles; steep a tea of German chamomile or gymnema; make a custom-blend curry with cayenne, turmeric, ginger, and other spices. Heal your scratchy throat with neem leaf, rosehips, Echinacea, and lemon balm leaf. Or add alfalfa, gingko, and nettle leaf to your greens drink. Soak juniper berries to mix with gin for an extra-aromatic martini.
As you can see, the bulk aisle is a paradise waiting to be discovered by do-it-yourselfers. Except for getting your fresh veggies from the produce aisle, you really don’t need much else in order to eat a wholesome diet. So invest in some decent Tupperware and get ready to scoop up some delicious grub!
Over two-thirds of the foods in Erewhon’s bulk aisle are certified organic and all are non-GMO. Come in to the store and get your bulk on!