Thursday, October 18, 2012

Finding top-notch groceries in Clear Lake

After slogging through one serious neighborhood issue after another recently, I need to do a mostly fun "lifestyle" blog post here.

Today's topic is healthy eating.  I had a business meeting yesterday in The Woodlands, and it took me to a grocery store I'd never heard of.  I had asked a concierge, "Is there a Whole Foods in the Woodlands by now?"  She said no, but directed me instead to this place called Hubbell and Hudson
Yes, that is indeed a grocery store.  If I hadn't been told as much, I would have looked at it and assumed it was another Pottery Barn-type durable goods retailer. 
"[It's not Whole Foods but] you won't be disappointed," the concierge advised.

Standard disclaimers apply here: I am not a nutrition expert.  I'm not even really a foodie.  But I've carefully developed an eating plan for myself that has kept me at my same low body mass index of 21.0 for a decade and a half post-childbirth, after having started out being somewhat overweight prior to my pregnancy. 

Yeah - I actually had a permanent net loss of weight after giving birth.  My weight settled at about fifteen pounds lower than it was to start with.  How many women can say that?!? Especially middle-aged women??
Your blogger as she approaches the inconceivably-old age of fifty years. The picture tells a thousand words, but remember that the camera adds ten pounds.  Nice decapitation, don'tcha think?? 

A few more years from now when I retire and go on Medicare, you fine American taxpayers will NOT be footing an enormous bill for my chronic obesity-related health problems.  Doesn't that thought brighten up your day??

According to this article, it costs about $50,000 more in Medicare coverages to treat obese older adults than it does to treat normal-weight people.  Contemplate that as you visualize your de facto tax dollars being positively sucked straight out of your pockets and into a bottomless vortex of public debt.   
So in a dietary sense, I know what works for me, and this Hubbell and Hudson grocery store would not work for me.  I was disappointed.  Sure, it had plenty of good high-end product offerings with an emphasis on organic, and their meat selection was fairly amazing.  But at the same time, to my way of thinking, it had more of an "indulgent gourmet" focus than a "health" focus, and by virtue of this, was missing a few key elements that I absolutely require in my eating plan. 

The most notable of these was heavy brown breads with the lowest-achievable glycemic index.  That's one part of my eating plan that I absolutely cannot violate - no high-glycemic foods.  Whole Foods knocks that one (artisan breads) right out of the park - I find their breads to be phenomenal.  There were fancy fresh-baked artisan breads in Hubbell and Hudson, but not a single one of them could I eat. 

And I couldn't find Perrier either.  Or Pellegrino.  Beware of any store that offers lots of single-serve specialty drinks of a very fancy variety, all of which require you to ingest up to 200 needless calories per serving.  This is just not tenable for many of us who are devoted to maintaining a stable low weight.  The recent HBO docu series Weight of the Nation made it absolutely clear that any sensible eating plan has to cut out sugary drinks, including natural fruit juices.  Perhaps once a month I will have an Izze, which clocks in at 120 calories per bottle (manufacturer-published data for the product "Sparkling Clementine").  But that's it for me.

And by the way, mine is not a "diet" - it's a way of life, so I call it a "plan". "Diets" are reactions made in response to weight gain - "plans" are proactively designed to prevent weight gain from ever occurring.  This is a fundamental difference.   

So this then brings us around to an obvious question:

Where does one go to shop in League City / Clear Lake if one wants to craft a really healthy diet which is also big on taste and sophistication?

By coincidence, Laura Elder had a piece in this morning's GCDN in which she used that phrase we hear so often:  "the fiercely competitive grocery store wars"

Huh.  Competitive, eh??  Grocery store wars??  And yet I have tremendous (almost-insurmountable) difficulty buying the basic food products that I need to maintain a stable weight. And from the visual appearance of our society, this general phenomenon is also true of most other people.  As I've noted in other less-fun blog posts, most people in America are simply fat by this time.   

Crazy when you think about it, eh??  All these grocery retailers fighting tooth and nail for the same consumer dollars by offering a great deal of the same mass-produced fattening junk foods.  Where are the healthy-alternative niche players we so desperately need??

To this end, here is my general approach to buying groceries around here:
  1. I go to Whole Foods whenever possible to get specialty items.  Because it costs about seven bucks in gasoline for each round trip, I tend to time those events very carefully (combining with trips to inside the Loop or to Sugar Land for other reasons such as business meetings -  a strategy that failed for me yesterday in The Woodlands, obviously).  Then I freeze as many items as I can.  Whole Foods breads freeze really well.  No frozen bread will ever be as good as fresh-baked, but I will take frozen Whole Foods bread over our local "fresh" alternatives any day of the week. 
  2. I pick up certain staple items at Sam's Club and low-cost grocery stores.  Getting the lowest possible cost on staples helps to offset the premiums paid at Whole Foods for the specialty items.
  3. For the past year or two, I have bought local grass-fed beef only from Georgia's, which sells every Saturday morning at the Clear Lake Shores Farmers Market
  4. I have also recently begun to acquire certain items at Erma's in Nassau Bay.  
This is a screengrab of their current webpage.  This is the closest thing we have in Clear Lake to a "healthy" grocery store.  While Erma's is limited by size (e.g., no meat department; all meats are pre-packaged and sold frozen, but that's OK), they do have an impressive selection that includes some fresh vegetables and packaged products not found in mainstream grocery stores.
 We are still waiting for our Whole Foods here in the Clear Lake area.  When Whole Foods recently announced on Facebook that they are going to build a Champions store, the thread positively lit up with Clear Lakers clamouring for our own store.  Hell might freeze over before that happens, however, so in the meantime, I divert my almighty consumer dollars to the options listed above.

I will have more on Erma's in a future post, as it's really quite a neat place that sells more than food.  In the meantime, happy (and healthy) eating.  And if anyone can suggest additional healthy food sources in the Clear Lake area, please do!!

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