Sourcing Ingredients Locally

As great as everything will taste and as much control you will have from making all your food from scratch, it can be plain out exhausting. If you still need to work a full time job or take care of family obligations you will learning pretty quick that giving up every weekend to prepare food for the week just isn't going to work. One very important factor that is becoming more and more prevalent in our grocery stores is, food manufacturers are aware of the need for lower sodium products and you will find an increasingly higher number of low sodium products available. Now before you run out and load up your cart there are some things you do need to know about how those lower sodium classified.

There are 4 ways that products that have reduced sodium amounts are sold and are labeled as such. You need to make sure you read the label carefully.

1. Reduced sodium: foods in which the level of sodium is reduced by 25%.
These are a "nice try" at best, but if a food or ingredient was 1000mg, this will only reduce to 750 mg of sodium and well you guessed it. It will still be to high for us. Bacon comes to mind when I see this. There are a few honest lower sodium bacon on the market, but the majority are "Reduced Sodium" which means a slice of bacon at 400mg is reduced to 325 mg, not really what we care looking for.

2. Low sodium: 140 mg or less per serving.
This is where I begin to pay attention to the foods that have this label. I have stated earlier that we never use an ingredient or food that is over 140 mg. This is also where the "per serving" amount we talked about earlier also comes into play. If you find an ingredient that is at or under 140 mg per serving, and let's say the "serving size" on the label is 140 mg for 1/4 cup and you only need 2 tablespoons you are only looking at 70 mg to use this food or ingredient. It also goes the other way. If the recipe you are using calls for 1/4 cup of this ingredient and it's 140 mg for 2 tablespoons you can add the ingredient for the taste or flavor you are looking for, but you will need to regulate the amount you use to stay within your sodium guidelines.

3.Very low sodium: 35 milligrams (mg) or less per serving
The next 2 labels are the ones that put a big smile on my face. If I find an ingredient or food product I really like with this label, it's like I struck gold!!!  I have found canned tuna, spaghetti sauce, canned veggies, desserts, cheeses etc. They are out there and they are worth finding.

4. Sodium free/Salt Free: a very small amount of sodium per serving
When the label says "a very small amount" it really means it. The sodium levels in these foods are 0-15 mg for the item. Once you have been on a LO SO diet for a little bit of time, these items can make you feel like a kid at Christmas. Imagine how I felt when I was in the "Snack" aisle and found "Salt free" potato chips! the per serving on these is like 15MG for 30 chips. To this day this one is still one of my greatest finds. I also found 4-5 different kinds of beans, a mozzarella cheese, roasted peppers in oil, popcorn,.

The Unmarked Package
So those are the labels to look for. But, always keep in mind that some items in a store are not marked or sold as "Low Sodium" because they are naturally low in sodium. Fruits and Veggies are a no-brainier here, but other items can surprise you. I don't want to give you a "sweet tooth" here, but most candies and chocolate are very low in sodium, unless peanut butter is an ingredient, that raises the sodium level quite a bit, but a limited amount it ok. I have found some Salsas that are naturally lower in sodium and the jar is not marked as Low Sodium, but it's a great companion to the Unsalted chips I like to eat. I have recently found the crusts for homemade pizza, thick thin, square, round. It is under 45mg per slice, which is ridiculously low in sodium for pizza crust, but none of them are marked as anything low sodium, because their recipe just naturally makes them that low.

Quick Tips for local sourcing

1. Don't limit your shopping to just one store anymore.
Each store offers different products. One store can be the only place that offers a certain products.

2. Talk to Store Managers or Dept Managers
Let them know what you are looking for, or making sure that they keep something in stock that you found in their stores

3. Take the Time to Learn the Stores You Shop
In the beginning, look at everything, find what specifically has to offer a Lo So Diet. You will be surprised of the time savings in the future.

4. Keep Track of Where You got Different Ingredients and Foods
Shopping many different stores then trying to remember which one you got a certain item at can send you on a wild goose chase.

5. When Buying Fish/Seafood
If the clerk can't tell you sodium amounts in fish, ask them to enter the items SKU or name in the scale that creates the price tag it will contain the sodium amount on the label.