Grocery Shopping Online with Food Sensitivities

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What are the ingredients? How do you know if it is safe to eat if you don’t see it in person?

My previous post, Grocery Shopping with Food Sensitivities During a Pandemic, went through the struggles of grocery shopping during this moment of empty shelves, especially for those with dietary restrictions. But, what wasn’t mentioned was the whole grocery shopping online where you pick what you want and someone else will do the shopping for you and bring the food to your house. That is great and all and helps a lot, but makes it harder for those with dietary restrictions. If they don’t have the item you want, then you have the option to pick an alternative, but what if that alternative isn’t safe? The person shopping for you doesn’t know about your allergies or to look for certain ingredients nor are you gonna make them do so. But, you could end up with something you can’t eat that just goes to waste because they didn’t have what you normally get at the store and had to grab an alternative. You can’t read ingredients and you’re not there to make a proper decision, so shopping online can be quite of a challenge too.

We have our safe foods that we know we can eat, but what happens if stores don’t have it? What happens if you’re not there to read ingredients and pick something different that you will know will be safe? Like mentioned in my previous blog, grocery shopping is different every time you go so you’ll never know what you can actually get. So, when you do your grocery shopping online, you can pick what you normally get, but you have no idea whether you’ll actually be able to get it by the time the shopper goes shopping for you. What happens next? Do you pick an alternative not knowing if it is safe or not because you can’t see the ingredients and hope that you are able to eat it? Or do you say, “forget it,” and go a week or so without the item?

Let’s say for example, peanut butter. I, in my case, can only eat natural peanut butter. One that has no oil or has any other oil besides rapeseed/canola like palm oil. So, if for my online shopping I pick Skippy’s natural peanut butter, which I know for a fact I can safely eat, but they don’t have the natural kind in the store. Do I pick any random natural peanut butter that I never had before and A) don’t know for sure if it’s safe to eat, B) don’t even know if I’ll like it, as an alternative? Or not pick an alternative and get nothing for the week or the shopper picking regular Skippy peanut butter thinking it’ll do because it’s still peanut butter and from the same brand, which I definitely can’t have and then I’m stuck with a whole jar of peanut butter sitting in the house that I can not consume even one drop?

Now, it is my understanding that you can pick alternatives for each item in case they don’t have it in the store, and they have an alternative picked for you, so you’re blindly picking something different that they offer for you, which doesn’t work for us with food allergies, intolerance or sensitivities. And the alternative sometimes can be something completely different than what you’re trying to buy. For example, we tried to get Clorox wipes and our alternative option that popped up was plastic wrap. Yeah, because I’m gonna sanitize my house and countertops with plastic wrap. Or I try to get Land O’ Lakes spreadable butter with olive oil and the alternative option is their version with canola oil, which I’m sensitive to. No, thank you. Please don’t give me a different kind of butter even if it’s from the same brand. For anyone else, it may be fine because it is still butter and works and tastes the same, but for me it’ll be a waste of money and food as I’m unable to consume it. So with dietary restrictions, alternatives aren’t all that great. The alternative also seems to be something random at times and not all that helpful, which leads you not to pick an alternative and possibly end up empty handed.

While playing it safe and not picking an alternative, online grocery shopping is great and amazing when you can get your safe foods that you always get and you groceries show up at your house. It doesn’t get any better than that and saves you the stress, energy, and time of driving to the store and doing the shopping yourself. So, when it all goes right and you can get what you need/what you’re able to eat, why not take advantage of online grocery shopping?

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