February 2, 2011

A Mindful Super Bowl Grocery Shopping List.

Photo Courtesy of D’Arcy Norman












*Update: the below makes references to Super Bowls of yore…but the food / drink part of it is timeless. ~ ed.


The Super Bowl, the world’s greatest holiday, is bearing down on you and you’re about to get sacked.

As a countdown, I will be supplying you, America, with daily blasts about the NFL, parties, and the Super Bowl itself, which we’ll live blog and tweet here in Boulder from a big solar power company (of course) where we’ll be watching The Game.

Here are the links to other Elephant articles that you may enjoy:

Five Reasons to Avoid the SB. Five Reasons to Indulge. Yoga and Football. The Bro Code. Destroy Ben Roethlisberger.  Enjoy! ~ Joe Yeoman

During last year’s Super Bowl, around 8 million pounds of Guacamole was consumed. No fewer than “$55 million is expected to be spent on food for The Big Game.” This means that it will be second only to Thanksgiving when it comes to the physical consumption of food for any event in America. (After writing this, I want to start a slow-clap and chant “USA, USA, USA.” I don’t know if I should feel patriotic or gluttonous.)

Truthfully, it’s American to watch the Big Game. It’s also very American to enjoy it with a stretched and aching stomach. That’s fine, but you, as an elephant reader, should be aware that there are some easy alterations you can make to your Sunday bash that will make it more socially responsible.

This is meant to be more of an anti-shopping list—which companies to avoid and why. It is up to you to decide what you ingest, and, first and foremost, I would suggest to eat local, organic, and real food, instead of packaged “food” from China. Also, make sure to read the nutritional guides so that you are avoiding products that contain poison, etc. As the last caveat, where you buy your food is just as important as what food you buy (for example, a mom-and-pop deli may be more expensive than a Wal-Mart pre-made-deli-platter, but price doesn’t take into account that Wal-Mart is evil and that mom-and-pops tend to cook with love).

The Super List:

1. Beer.

The Super Bowl is day to drink, and drink heavily. Currently, the day ranks 8th on most consumed beer, just behind Easter. Roughly, 51 million cases of beer will be purchased and guzzled. As a Steeler scores, there will be plenty of blasted uncles that mimic the dance, spiking their bottles into the shag carpet.

When selecting a beer, we suggest that you buy American, and that you try buying local.

Avoid Budweiser—a subsidiary of AB-InBev, a Belgium Company that also produces Stella Artois. That means Bud Light, Rolling Rock, and Bacardi Malt Beverage  profits leave the USA and go straight to Europe.

Budweiser also uses GMO rice. They grow the rice in the USA but will ship it around the world, like to their breweries in China, to create a flavorless beer. (The “Big Three” makes most of their beers with rice because of a WWII wheat ration. The practice stayed and was enhanced based on the low cost of rice.)

Photo Courtesy of Simon Doggett

Also try to avoid the other two in the “Big Three”. Miller is owned by SABMiller (South African Breweries has a headquarters in London). They have partnership with Molson Coors Brewing Company, which partially Canadian. Again, this means that when you buy a Silver Bullet, the profits leave the United States, and you are consuming generically tampered rice. Oh, and they don’t taste very good.

I would highly suggest reaching for a Sam Adams or a Fat Tire. When Budweiser sold out America, Sam Adams and the Boston Beer Company became our largest American owned brewer. The chairman, Jim Koch, is a fifth generation, American brewer. They also started a Microloan fund to assist small businesses. By doing this, Sam Adams becomes a beer that gives back.

Fat Tire (from New Belgium) was originally started as a home brewing passion that the owner, Jeff Lebesch, took to the streets. Here are some really great videos on Fat Tire. The company has teamed up with Outside Magazine in Fort Collins, Co to create a Facebook campaign to help the Humane Society.

You can also try to find a local brewery in your area. Typically, you can take a private tour of that brewery and actually get to meet the people who make your frothy beverage. If you would like to know more about Green beers, click here. For vegan options look here at the amazing Barnivore (they also have liquor and wine suggestions!). (Also, for those of you on a diet, Light Beer doesn’t mean Fat-Free. Light usually means that there is less alcohol—more water—than regular beer. The caloric content may not actually change.)

Personally, I am going to be drinking Avery, which is made in Boulder. I know that my beer will have low food miles, and that it will support non-corporate liquor stores.

When you purchase local or American owned breweries, you can feel good about getting schnockered because you are supporting a more sustainable economic practice.

Obviously, avoid drinking and driving. But don’t avoid drinking and cheering.


2. Chips.

Roughly, 28 million chips, or 300,000 miles, will be digested and turned into energy on Feb. 6th.

This means that the Lay’s product tag “you can’t eat just one” is truer than ever. As far as avoiding large, multinational corporations, Frito-Lay—a subsidiary of PepsiCo, which also owns Quaker Oats, Tropicana, and Gatorade, and used to own many, many more companies, including Taco Bell—products are better left collecting dust on the shelves.

If you go for a Lays product, reach for Sun Chips, but stick to only the Original style. The Original flavor is made with 100% compostable wrapping, and in one of their seven plants, they do use solar power to create their chips. This means that your waste, and there is going to be a lot of it, is at least going to breakdown in the dump. Oh, but they discontinued most of the bags because they were deemed to “noisy” by consumers.

While, some of their products are made with three ingredients: potatoes, oil, salt, most of them contain the dreaded corn byproducts. And while they are working on a “net-zero” project to limit their carbon foot print, most of their plants are not LEED certified.

Personally, I am going to stick to chips that are trans-fat and cholesterol free, specifically Boulder Canyon Natural Products. I would look at where your chips are made, and then you really need to read the list of ingredients, because most chips are made with awful, awful ingredients. For example, Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream contain lots of butter, artificial flavorings and colors, and corn, and have 1g of fat per chip.

3. Soda.

There are hundreds of reasons not to get your caffeine fix from Coca-Cola Company: strings of mysterious labor murders, using toxic materials in India, and hating most of colors of the rainbow.

Mainly, you should avoid Coke, Pepsi, and other sodas that use High Fructose Corn Syrup. The stuff is awful, and I don’t really know what to write that already isn’t published about it. Just don’t drink it, or enjoy diabetes.

Instead of Coke, which I think actually wants to destroy all those that oppose it, buy sodas that contain sugar. Izze and Jones sodas are great examples. I know that Coke products are incredibly inexpensive, because of the subsidies to corn, but if you take into account the destruction of your liver and India, then maybe Coke isn’t the best choice.

Almost every grocery store carries higher end sodas. I like to look for ones in glass bottles (it looks classier, and I can recycle them), and then I see where they are made and what they are made from. Granted, you can buy Mexican Cokes, which are made with sugar (it baffles me that Corn syrup is illegal in Mexico but not the USA). But then you are shipping a bottle from Mexico to your Super Bowl party.

Personally, I’m skipping the sodas and going straight for the Fat Tire.

4. Meat.

There is tons of fat and cholesterol in beef. And if the cattle wasn’t farmed raised, but stuck in a stockyard, it also probably contains antibiotics and hormones. As an omnivore, it is difficult to avoid beef on game day.

Photo Courtesy of Triple Tri

My suggestion is to look for farm raised bison.

Beef is up to five times fatter than bison. (Bison is actually less fatty than chicken as well.) While bison might be more expensive, you can look at using less of it that you normally would beef. This means that you can avoid storing up fat.

Chicken can be great, especially wings in hot sauce, for a party. The meat takes on the flavors of the many dipping sauces out there. Just be aware of where your chicken comes from, and what the chicken eats/is made of. (Some genetically engineered chickens can’t stand, and some of them don’t ever see the light of day). Look for free-range chicken.

Ask your grocer where their meat comes from. If the butcher can’t answer question, then you should probably avoid the product and the grocer.

(With the dipping sauces, also look to avoid Corn Syrup. I don’t know why hot sauce needs to be sweetened, so I tend to go for ones made with ingredients I can pronounce.)

4. Sides.

I think that the sides are almost common sense. Just like the beef, you want to see where the products come from and if that company is committed to sustainable practices.

After that, look at making healthier choices by preparing your own sides. Instead of tons of chips, look at baking finely cut vegetables until they are crisp. Instead of buying salsa, look at chopping up your own tomatoes, onions, and peppers.

By cooking and preparing your own sides, you can avoid hormones and preservatives that can be found in pre-made junk food. For example, if you want tacos, make some amazing bison tacos, with Colorado cheese, etc. Then you can avoid Taco Bell tacos, which contain Silica…better known as sand.

Bonus…At the Bar.

If you are planning on eating and drinking at a bar for the game, let the same rules above apply. If you wouldn’t buy Budweiser for your fridge at home, then why drink it in a keg at a bar. You should look into calling a head to see if the bar meets these accommodations. If they don’t, maybe look into a new hang-out spot or ask them if they could offer alternatives. (Also, avoid corporate bars because they tend to lack any sort of environment that makes the game fun; some of their food might not be prepared in house; and because you want to support your local community.)

If you are going to eat yourself blind, do your body a favor and eat responsible.

Joe Yeoman loves you. He is an MFA candidate at the Jack Kerouac School. As a displaced Chicago writer and editor, he hopes to see the Windy City soon.  You can contact him at Joeyeoman [at] gmail [dot] com.

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