Web-based stores specializing in LS/LF foods
These 3 pioneering stores are run by people with LS/LF diet needs themselves and offer a lot of information in addition to the products they sell. They deserve your support -- but there are practical limits to buying groceries for delivery from a distant state to your home.
In alphabetical order:
(Lowsaltlowfat.com has no connection with any of the above businesses. The logos are included for identification purposes only and does not imply any endorsement to or from these businesses.)
Other web-based stores
Amazon.com - Yes, Amazon sells groceries and has some LS/LF items that might be of interest, particularly if you are buying other products from them. But there are 2 real limitations: large minimum quantities of many items, e.g. 9 bottles (!!) of ketchup, and no online nutrition or content labelling. Shame on you, web pioneer Amazon, for the lack of such information! (In many cases you can confirm nutrition information from the manufacturer's web site or the sites in the box below.)
These are the web-based home delivery services of box grocery stores. Neither is nationwide although they each cover several regions. Both have a wider variety of products, including LS/LF products, than the related box store.
Both web sites ask for your zip code so if you don't live in their service area just use the White House zip code, 20500, to look around. (George won't mind.) These sites are also useful alternatives to the Calorie Count web site for checking commercial products since they contain detailed nutrition and content information on thousands of products - as opposed to Amazon that had no such information. Both sites are easier to search than the Calorie Count site.
Note that in both sites there are some data entry errors so when you search for "low salt" products, some of the items you get are "lower salt" items with very high salt content. Thus check the nutrition labels before you order. (I would be glad to add other regional stores of a similar nature.)
North Bay Trading Co. is a Wisconsin-based wild rice distributor with a line of soup mixes that are low salt, low fat, and high fiber. (Mainstream soup mixes and canned soups are generally very high in salt.) Their products are commonly found in high end natural food stores and cooperatives. Unfortunately, their web site doesn't give detailed nutrition information, so you may wish to call in your order to 800-348-0164 and confirm that the specific products ordered are LS/LF.
Main stream supermarkets generally have very limited selections of LS/LF products and probably neither low salt nor no salt bread. The box store supermarket business is strongly affected by "slotting fees or allowances" that grocery manufacturers pay to guarantee shelf access for their products. Forbes magazine has reported,
"For a new product the standard price of admission to the shelves is a slotting fee—up to $25,000 per item for a regional cluster of stores. (A California food producer says he met with a buyer at a chain grocer who demanded $250,000 for ten stores and wouldn't even take a meeting until he received a $100,000 check.) Small manufacturers hate paying upfront money; it can put them out of business before they've even started."
So as long as LS/LF items are perceived as niche products, large supermarkets will focus on what the large manufacturers pay (bribe?) them to stock. Some large chains now have web-based affiliates, such as those discussed above. Web-based stores do not have the same shelf space limitations and often have a better selection of LS/LF products than the corresponding box store.
Trader Joe's is a California-based quirky grocery chain with locations in many parts of the country, but focusing on East and West Coasts. Virtually all their products are branded with their name and are not available elsewhere. Many are unique offerings either made to their specs or bought as a closeout from the manufacturer. Thus they are not affected by "slotting fees".
Due to their unusual marketing model, products come and go in inventory. However, they are a reliable source for minimally processed frozen meat and fish in modest serving sizes and many other LS/LF products. They presently stock the following hard to find LS/LF items:
no sodium bread (Not available in all regions due to sourcing problems)
no sodium marinara sauce
low sodium chicken broth
low sodium sliced turkey meat
TJ's offers online lists of their low sodium and low fat products, but it appears that the list is not updated as often as their inventory changes so the store availability may vary and might actually be larger. Even though their stores are smaller than most supermarkets and they do not advertise LS/LF products, I find the local TJ's has more LS/LF products than any nearby supermarket.
Trader Joe's has recently announced they are phasing in a new labeling system, shown in the clipping below, with distinct icons indicating whether a product is low salt and/or low fat. Congratulations for such effective leadership!
Announcement of Trader Joe's commendable icon labelling program.
Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer, 10/07, p. 5
Whole Foods Market is an almost national chain with stores in 31 states.
"We believe in a virtuous circle entwining the food chain, human beings and Mother Earth:
each is reliant upon the others through a beautiful and delicate symbiosis."
I have no idea what that means -- but they do carry more organic and minimally processed items than mainstream stores and thus offer many items for LS/LF diets that otherwise would be hard to find locally. Their web site uniquely offers lists of low salt and low fat products available in each store that appear to be updated regularly. Here is an example. Oddly, you can't search for products that meet two characteristics, such as low sodium and vegetarian. It appears that almost all of the low sodium products are also low fat, but since these lists are not linked to nutrition label data, as in the case of Safeway.com and Peapod, you can't be certain. Of course, this is a box store so you can always look before you buy. They should be commended for this excellent practice of posting up to date lists of products for special dietary needs!
Your neighborhood organic/health food store may be a good source of LS/LF products. No, you don't need organic food for a LS/LF diet, but these stores tend to carry more minimally processed products than main stream groceries and thus can help fill in some of your shopping needs. In particular, they can be a good source of low sodium breakfast cereals from smaller processors. To find a store near you, try GreenPeople or Organic Store Locator.
Bread is especially hard to get in the no salt or low salt form. The reasons for this are puzzling in view of the hypertension rates in the US. I would love to hear from the food industry about how they rationalize this. I would think that the food technologists that could invent "pop rocks" could also develop a tasty low sodium bread that could be mass marketed. See Breakfast page for source information.
Recent immigrants tend to eat less processed food so local ethnic groceries stores might have interesting LS/LF products, especially fresh produce.
For example, I am a fan of hummus and commercial brands have high sodium content as do most brands of the usual ingredient for home made versions - canned chick peas/garbanzos.
Middle eastern groceries and organic food stores usually have dried chick peas/garbanzos that can be used to make low sodium hummus.
Beware that some ethnic food products have higher salt and fat content than main stream American food, so check labels carefully. Also ethnic foods not in mass distribution may not have the usual nutrition labeling due to FDA labeling exemptions for small producers and importers.