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If you think Vegan fashion means potato sacks and woven sandals, you are not alone.

Although I use the word “vegan” to describe my dietary preferences, living a vegan, cruelty-free lifestyle is so much more than avoiding food from an animal source. A Vegan lifestyle means avoiding anything that brings discomfort or harm to animals, from your shoes and handbag to your shampoo and lipstick.

Due to my nutritional education, I lead a plant-based lifestyle by default and turn down opportunities to wear fur. Although I would never wish to bring any harm to animals, cruelty-free fashion was something I did not start to contemplate until my friend Gena became more verbal in explaining her lifestyle a couple of years ago. Still, I envisioned “vegan-fashion” as something more “granola” or hippie. Already challenged in the fashion department, it rocked my world to think that I should need to wear t-shirts and clogs.

Fashion has never been my strong suit. I have not an ounce of hesitation on stage “in character” (I grew up in theater), or  giving a lecture to a large crowd, but try dolling me up to model an outfit and you’ve got yourself a recipe for uncertainty. I freeze up like a Bambi in headlights. (And to think I used to model!)

When I met Madeline Alcott last summer, I was in absolute awe of her down to earth personality and her mission with Petit Vour– the company she has co-founded to bring cruelty-free luxury beauty products to the forefront. When I say cruelty-free beauty products I am not talking about just rubbing coconut oil on your lips. Madeline scours the great big world for the most dazzling, ethical, and nontoxic products on the market, and then features them in her beauty boxes that go out every month to its subscribers. Way cool, right? And I am all about non-toxic skincare– (Ahem… “Clear Skin Detox Diet”). I just subscribed and I am so beyond excited to receive my first beauty box.

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Alcott put me in touch with Ashlee Piper of thelilfoxes.com and as luck would have it, we all ended up in Dallas at the right moment in time to hit up the well known vegan restaurant, Spiral Diner.

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Over lunch we chatted fashion, product, food and animals. Not big on soy, I dolled up my salad with grilled portabello mushrooms, two sides of steamed broccoli, and sides of salsa and guacamole– hold the chips

Ashlee Piper, takes cruelty-free fashion to a whole new level of glamour. In preparation for being on the Dallas Morning News and The Broadcast with Courtney Kerr, Ashlee invited over real women, me included, to model some cruelty-free brands for the different segments. Within a few hours, and limited options, she had fitted us to perfection, and rocking some stunning outfits, and accessories– that were no where close to looking like a burlap sack. My initial thoughts on meeting Ashley in her dressing room (read: closet) was damn, this girl knows how to rep her brands, these companies ought to be paying her big bucks.

Check out Ashley’s Segment for Cruelty-Free Fashion on Good Morning Dallas:

Dallas Morning Check out Ashley’s Segment for Cruelty-Free Fashion on The Broadcast with Courtney Kerr:

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Check out Ashley’s Segment for Cruelty-Free Fashion on The Broadcast with Courtney Kerr:

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Piper even let me leave with some new toys to play with, items that sometimes appear on Petit Vour, and thelilfoxes.com.

I am newly obsessed with the Cleure Shampoo and Conditioner Piper sent me home with. It is free of salicylates, gluten, parabens, and sodium laurel sulfate to say the least. My baby fine hair feels fuller than ever. I am also head over heels for the Lipstick by Aromi that I swear makes me feel like I could never find a better shade of romance.

Want a feel like a million bucks? Get Ashlee Piper to overhaul your wardrobe!

It is amazing that these inspiring women and the brands they are rep’n are showing the world that one need not steal a life to look like they are living’ the dream.

Oh… and if you think this bag is sexy, I urge you to enter to win Piper’s giveaway to get you one of these pretty things. Enter here. Ends on April 24, 2014. So go! go! go!

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You sexy thing.

The SKIN is our largest organ. What the body cannot efficiently neutralize and cleanse via the kidneys and liver is likely to be eliminated through the pores. What it does not eliminate, can be stored in our fatty tissue and/or be circulated throughout our bloodstream to further distress our organs.

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Children these days are suffering from skin allergies, acne, rashes, psoriasis, eczema and a variety of unpleasantries that make us itch, or wince in the mirror.

“Adult acne” is now a thing, and a marketable product.

Why is this happening?

Because your body is smart.

When given the option between a less harmless approach at detoxifying the blood in the presentness, and the possibility of a much worse outcome later on down the road, an intelligent body will choose to suffer upfront.

Would you rather suffer from minor consequences now, or deal with possibly life threatening consequences later?

When I was a young girl, my skin starting breaking out.

I was told I would grow out of it.

I was told I would grow out of it.

and

I was told I would grow out of it…

Until…

I was told it was hormones.

and then told it was hormones.

But I never grew out of it. I never grew out of it because what I was feeding my body  was a buffet of high calorie refined garbage when I was young, and a surplus of low-calorie processed junk when I was in college. Regardless of calorie content, both included JUNK– stuff my body could not use, and wanted desperately to eliminate.

I went on my first “diet” when I was 12, eating a vending machine size bag of candy, or a pop tart,  and a sugary drink instead of a full “meal” of chips, sandwich, juice box, and a Twinkie, like my peers. I thought I was “healthy” because I was eating less than them. In college, I ate everything in sight and put on a lovely twenty pounds, and then lost it all, restricting my calorie intake. The problem was, regardless of my calories consumed and my present weight, my skin was always an issue (not to mention I developed depression, anxiety, insomnia, and extreme allergies along the way).

In the grand scheme of things, I was missing the bigger picture: The body is all connected. It functions as one unit, even if each of those units have different responsibilities. It did not matter so much how many, or how little calories I was consuming, but rather the content of my food choices. Just the same, it did not matter what product I was slathering on my skin, if the issue was from within.

The “Clear Skin Detox Diet: A Revolutionary Plan to Heal Your Skin from the Inside Out” was written to serve as a reference for my clients, and as a guide for anyone that has ever wanted to achieve natural beauty, and/or and find awareness about the connection between their diet and how we look and feel.

The topic of SKIN for this book came about because so many of my clients, regardless of why they originally came to work with me, (whether weight loss, energy, a specific disease or ailment, allergies, acne, etc.) all raved about the improvement of their skin from the get go.

When we understand how to properly nourish the body, and how the body actually digests and utlizes the “fuel” we give it, we can reach all of our health goals in unison. When I work with clients privately, we focus on understanding how digestion affects metabolism, energy, and everyday steps we can take to enhance these functions. The results are incredible.

Although I customize suggestions for each of my clients, as far as making recommendations that will work for them, the overall picture stays the same: What we eat and how it is digested is paramount to understanding how the body functions– and how exceptional we feel as a result.

Juicing is incredible because of the high concentration of nutrients that become available in small volumes.

Consider juicing vegetables and greens like Mother Nature’s gift on steroids.

Fresh pressed juice is abundant in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that alkalize and cleanse the body while nourishing it with the appropriate fuel it needs. It also supplies the body with antioxidants that combat free-radical fighting agents that deteriorate the body, and cause rapid aging, and disease. When we extract the juice from the actual vegetable, we are separating the nutrient dense water and sugar from the fiber. While fiber is important, what is so exceptional about juice is the act of separating fiber, from the plant’s nutrients for a much higher concentration of nutrients in every sip.

Eating 3 pounds of carrots would seem absurd, but juicing, and then drinking the equivalent of 3 pounds of carrots is completely manageable. Why? Because we extract the nutrients from the part of the vegetable (fiber– plant cellulose) that requires digestive energy.

Check out this article on juicing featured in the Dallas Morning News and this interactive video on how to make the standard Green Lemonade:

We hear so much about the benefits of fiber, but when consumed on an empty stomach for breakfast, the nutrients in a fresh pressed juice rockets through our stomach (a holding pouch for our food to be digested), and into the bloodstream. It is for this same reason that we do not want to drink fruit juice. We do not want sugar surging into our bloodstream (without fiber to slow its absorption).

While not each of my clients are always ready to start their day out with a juice when we start working together, they are always amazed at how energized and satiated they feel when they do.

I thank you all for your support thus far, for those of you that have already ordered your own copy of my new book: Clear Skin Detox Diet: A Revolutionary Plan to Heal Your Skin from the Inside Out.” It contains the information you need to achieve superior health, improve and enhance digestion and energy, reverse aging, and get that beautiful complexion and body you deserve. It also contains actual meal plans I have created for my clients, and recipes, from juice and smoothies, to sides, salads and entrees. You can order it online, and find it in your local book store.

You can also check out this article: Experts Reveal Best and Worst Foods for your Skin on Slashed Beauty for a little more fun.

I cannot wait to hear your thoughts! Please tag me in your Clear Skin Detox photos and recipes and follow me on:

Twitter: @GLOWDETOX

Instagram: @GLOW_DETOX

and I am trying to get better about posting on my Glow Facebook page.

 

 

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The other day I accompanied my daughter to an event at her school. As usual there was an abundance of dessert and candy in the cafeteria, you know… as a reward for being present, and such. I have learned to shut my mind off during these occasions. I may be able to educate my children on the impact food has on our body, but in the end, when confronted with options, the choice is up to them. Just as I sometimes eat too much chocolate—which is also my choice. ;)

My daughter is always and forever talking about her adorable friend that is “gluten-free.” I love my daughter’s thoughtfulness because it does not matter what we are planning, (even if it is her birthday 10 months in advance), she is always concerned about having something “gluten-free” available for her friend. However, when I spotted this friend digging into a bowl of completely processed, candy garbage much to her mother’s chagrin (read: refined sugars, red #40, nasty chemicals) I thought to myself:

HOW IS GLUTEN so often labeled the ENEMY when SUGAR and other such horrific refined and man-made ingredients get a hall pass?

So what are my thoughts on gluten?

Gluten is an inflammatory food, meaning it causes irritation within the digestive tract and in the body. Inflammation within the body can lead to number of health complications. I have seen it directly and indirectly play a role in seasonal allergies, acne, skin disorders, weight gain and loss, achy joints, mood swings, and attention deficit disorders, to name a few.

We are all unique beings. We all react differently to stressors. If you are to find yourself in a stressful situation you might react differently on Monday than you would on Wednesday, and on Monday, you might react differently to that stressor than the person to your left. The point is, regardless of how stress manifests itself, stress is still not ideal. Ideally, we want to remove as many stressors as possible.

The wheat grain of today, is a Frankenstein species at best, and a product of industrialization—generally bred from a hybridized seed, often genetically modified, doused in chemical fertilizers and pesticides and then refined so that it has a longer shelf life.

The “new” wheat is a long way away from its ancestral roots. As cereals, pastas, and breads, have become household staples, so has our technique for molding them into the product we desire—low cost, low price, low maintenance, and long lasting. We applaud our ability to feed our country, but the “food” we are choosing to use as fuel is a pitiful step towards the ideal health, beauty and longevity we seek.

While there is a smallish percentage of the population that is actually highly allergic to gluten, I find a diet without gluten does just about every body good (as long as it’s replacement is not also offensive). In other words, while one may not become painfully uncomfortable and immobile from gluten consumption, it can still play a role as a “stressor” and cause disruption, even if we cannot pinpoint it right away. As more and more of us are becoming aware of this possible “sensitivity,” “gluten-free” foods have become about as sexy as designer bags—a marketer’s dream. Although I have been “gluten-free” for a few years, I did not truly recognize this label about myself until it became the thing to do.

The issue with “gluten-free” marketing is that it is misleading. Just because a food is labeled as “gluten-free,” does not make it a healthier option. In fact, sprouted grain breads, like Ezekiel bread by Food for Life, or other sprouted whole grain products, can be a better option (for people that are not allergic to gluten itself) than the plethora of gluten-free alternatives, which can contain just as agitating or “stressful” and processed ingredients. Sprouted whole grains products are unrefined, organic, non-GMO grains, that have been sprouted to lessen their digestive difficulty as well as enhance their nutrient absorption.

Sprouted or not, the even BIGGER issue is that we are going to continue to develop allergies and uncomfortable sensitivities to our food if we continue to overlook the other menacing ingredients causing us to become so highly sensitized in the first place. When we consume man-made and artificial ingredients, excess animal products, medications, and other such refined and shelf-stable foods, we weaken our immune system and irritate the digestive tract—which is necessary in order for our bodies to absorb nutrients, and eliminate what it does not need. So while select candies, or chips, or a protein bar may be in fact “gluten-free,” the sugar, and oils, soy, GMO and “natural flavors” (which by the way can come from different “parts” of an animal) are disrupting and agitating the incredible system functioning within.

My point is: gluten may just be the straw that broke the camel’s back. And in a land of processing and “make-believe,” tomorrow that allergy or sensitivity could be yesterday’s super grain (like quinoa)! Or heck, even an avocado!

We should not be giving gluten the death stare when other menacing contributors are getting a hall pass. I truly believe that proper nutrition (from real unprocessed and whole food) and enhanced digestion is our key to rid ourselves of the many issues we are experiencing. It is not just gluten. While gluten may not be an ideal form of nourishment, I don’t think it is our only “enemy”. (I just don’t think it does a body good.)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

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I was first introduced to this beautiful expression of self-love and transparency several years ago. In fact, it was printed and pasted on the wall in the back of a Doctor’s office, with the name Nelson Mandela printed underneath. From the first few lines, I was captivated.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. 

As a nutritionist with an enormous percentage of female clientele, I see this inability to embrace our inner most individuality and our true ambitions frequently. We become so caught up in our daily routines, or sometimes disorganization and lack there of, that we are afraid to imagine our lives beyond this very moment, and instead build ourselves a laundry list of problems or distractions to hide beneath.

Sometimes these barricades are presented as weight issues (whether over or under), depression, or our skin, etc.. We all have our reasons for not stepping out of the darkness– a terrible past, a stressful present, financial issues, a dysfunctional family… there is always a reason why we cannot be great. However, these perceived reasons are just our perception of today’s reality. They are the stories we tell ourselves.

In those moments where we come face to face with the time to unleash our true desires, we resort to what we know, what we can take comfort in, even if that is pain.

I work with a variety of incredible clients, each with different stories, health and wellness goals. I often see an overwhelming theme: It is is easier to focus on the external issues and often food, and build ourselves a barricade of problems, instead of dealing with the greater issues and our true potential.

In other words, we often identify ourselves with our current external problems (whether we are the person with skin problem, or always on a diet, or can never find the right mate) than deal with the “what if” you do go for a run and feel great, or express your voice in poetry and someone is touched by it? What if we cast aside the story we are telling ourselves, and just go for the gold? What if we no longer can identify with the “I am always on a diet” mentality, then what?

What if we acknowledged our greatness? It is okay to have hope and believe in your ability. It is even more okay to take action.

Often attributed to the great Nelson Mandela in his Inaugural Address in 1994, this exceptional and beautiful work of art is actually an excerpt from the book “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson. It does not matter whether you are 11 years old and bashful about sharing your A+ out of fear that it will not be well received by your peers, 22 and worried that a new healthier physique will cause a shift in your current relationships, or 45 and married with children and worried that you will be leaving someone behind– your children, or life partner. Let me tell you:  While it may be the biggest feat you overcome, true friends and family want to see you shine, and children are proud of goal-orientated parents. 

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.

I cannot tell you the number of times I have held my breath when I was younger, or caught my tongue from expressing nutritional findings and thoughts out of fear of ruffling an easily ruffled acquaintance, friend, or family’s feathers. If you are struggling, confront your fears. Why are your struggling? What is holding you back? Could it be that you know you have a voice worth sharing?

Even though Marianne Williamson’s book, “A Return to Love” does have a religious undertone, one need not be religious to grow and be rejuvenated by her wisdom and words. I truly loved listening to “Return to Love” so much that I want to offer two of my U.S. readers the opportunity to receive an audio, or paperback copy (your choice).

I have never done this before, but I personally plan to purchase and send two winners a copy of this work to your home via amazon.

Enter to win your very own copy right here! Or… if you have already been inspired by this work, do use your beautiful voice below and inspire others.

For some time now, there have been some popular articles circulating dissing Whole Foods Market. I must admit, I have enjoyed reading them. However, this is my rebuttal, and ode to a place I call my playground.

Unless you are in a particularly “granola” part of the country (Austin, Colorado, parts of California), the theme of Whole Foods is not overwhelmingly Vegan. That may have been the dream of founder John Mackey, but in truth, the meat department does quite well. A frequent shopper at Whole Foods, I cannot tell you the number of times I have been offered a little sausage sample dipped in a gourmet ketchup. I actually shudder when I think of that particular ketchup now, thoughts of plump sausages dancing in my head. If I were have to ever purchased said ketchup, it would have been before it were forever correlated with dancing meat. Shudder.

Despite the amount of thoughtful employees that work in Whole Foods, I would never assume they were judging others for not being vegan, because most of them are not vegan themselves. Perhaps, I am just a friendly person attracting friendly people, but the employees I have met at Whole Foods are quite knowledgable about all products, and extremely patient. Can you imagine the amount of times they are asked by guests to locate “key-know-uh” (Quinoa), Splenda, or something Dr. Oz has mentioned? The answer to those questions is, “Keen-wah” is on whatever aisle the rice is on, Whole Foods does not carry Splenda because that is one toxic ingredient the store has not let creep into their products, and whatever Dr. Oz mentioned they may, or may not carry. 

In defense of the cost for some products, it is true that if you want a healthier cookie or chip, you may be paying more for it at Whole Foods. True story. To be frank, the reason for this is quite simply because the individual ingredients cost more. One of the products I recommend to my younger clients is “Red Hot Blues.” A bag of chips that taste remarkably like Doritos. If we were to look at the ingredients on both bags, we would see that Doritos contain:

corn, vegetable oil (corn, canola, and/or sunflower oil), maltodextrin (made from corn), salt, tomato powder, corn starch, lactose, whey, skim milk, corn syrup solids, onion powder, sugar, garlic powder, monosodium glutamate (aka: MSG), cheddar cheese (milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), dextrose, malic acid, buttermilk, natural and artificial flavors, sodium acetate, artificial color (including red 40, blue 1, yellow 5), sodium caseinate, spice, citric acid, disodium insinuate, and disodium guanylate.

Where as said, “Red Hot Blues” by Garden of Eatin’ contain the following:

Organic blue corn, expeller pressed oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil, dehydrated tomato, rice flour, salt, paprika, spices, smoked torula yeast, dehydrated onion, natural flavor.

Yes. If my child is addicted to Doritos, I am going to spend the extra pennies to avoid cheap and highly toxic ingredients like MSG, toxic dyes, like Red 40 and blue 1 (because clearly Red 40 is not how strawberries get their color), not to mention the number of genetically modified ingredients in there (corn, corn, and more corn, oil, etc.). The reason that other chips are cheaper is quite simply because cheaper ingredients equates to cheaper products. While I would not call “torula yeast” a healthy ingredient, or any chip a “health food”, I would tell you there are usually healthier alternatives at Whole Foods.

If you are having trouble choosing, a Whole Foods employee will generally offer to let you try a item. I have yet to see someone do this in another store.

Whole Foods is home to a plethora of unique products, but unless you are in the produce section, just because it is in the store, does not make it a health food. The folks working in bakery will lovingly smile and point you in the right direction, but those talented people will flat out tell you that while they may not be using high fructose corn syrup in their icing, and they might be using beets to make pink roses instead of red 40, they are still using sugar and oil. I feel much more comfortable buying cupcakes and desserts from Whole Foods than any other big grocer, but a cake is still a cake. It may be a cake from Whole Foods, but it is not free ride to loving your body. I don’t think a Whole Foods employee would tell you otherwise. They will help you find a vegan cake, should you be looking, but they will not sell you on the fact that it is a health food. Thank you honesty.

Whole Foods is also home to an extensive amount of produce from all across the world. While Whole Foods may be leading the way for Organics and GMO labeling, they undoubtably are going to have a splattering of non-organic, not local, or GMO items in there also. I have seen many a guest become disgruntled to find a Mexican organic cucumber, or pepper. I must say, I stare at critically at those vegetables too, willing them to be local instead. We are trained to want what we want, 365 days of the year. Well, Mother Nature is divine in that she only grows certain vegetables in certain regions and specific times of the year. If you are upset that your butternut squash is more expensive during the summer, it costs Whole Foods more mula to bring in that winter item in during the summer too. Perhaps we should all start gardens of our own and that way we can have local cucumbers and peppers. If you want to save money at Whole Foods, shop seasonally, and locally, and avoid pre-cut items. Of course those are going to cost more! Whole Foods is paying some lovely lady to chop them up for you.

On another note, Whole Foods has some of the best looking vegetables I have every seen. Besides some of the local markets that are starting to pop up here and there, including my favorite non-GMO grocery store, Green Grocer, what I admire most about Whole Foods is their produce selection and their high quality standards. Did you know that if they receive a shipment of lackluster veggies, they just won’t put them out? So, if a batch of mushrooms come in looking all creepy and slimy, they don’t make their way to the mushroom bin. What does this mean? If said mushrooms are arriving all “creepy and slimy”, there might not be any mushrooms available in the store. So if you want mushrooms that day, you may have to venture elsewhere, where you inevitably may have to sort through creepy mushrooms. Mother Nature is imperfect. Fresh food goes bad. However, should it go bad, I do not want to eat it. I am always amazed when I venture into another grocery store to find a bunch of sad, bruised, and picked over vegetables. Did they fight a battle on the way over? Perhaps they are sad because they are not at Whole Foods. I would personally just rather not have to dig through a mound of sad vegetables. I am grocery shopping. I am not on a treasure hunt.

As far as the makeup department goes, I love knowing that I can find better, non, or less-toxic ingredients, and for great prices. The skin absorbs an upwards of 80% of what we put on it, so if we are taking the time to treat our body right, we should not be stacking on the poisons topically either. I rarely venture into department stores these days unless I am visiting my mother, or during the holidays. In a sea of bright lights, I feel like someone is always trying to spray me with a stinky perfume, or sell me a product to make my skin less wrinkly, or something or another. I can’t say I do a lot of beauty product shopping, but if you walk out of Whole Foods spending a lot of money on face cream, I can only imagine what you would have spent in a department store. And for what? Excess chemicals? Eek!

If you want to shop smart at Whole Foods and spend less, start by purchasing the foods that John Mackey intended to highlight: the produce (seasonally, and locally), and then the bulk section of the store, where you will find an extensive amount of legumes, nuts, and grains. These foods require little maintenance, are quite filling, and are thus usually less expensive. The more chips and cookies you eat, the less satisfied you will be, and thus the more money you will have to spend purchasing said, “healthier” cookies and chips. It is quite simple.

This past weekend I found myself at Costco, a place I always try to see how fast I can get in and out of. Everything at Costco is LARGE, “convenient,” fast and impersonal. I was standing at the checkout lane and there was some sort of delay. The guy in front of me was quite bothered, dancing around like he had ants in his pants. I must admit I was antsy to get out of there with my giant bags of organic carrots and Hail Merry tarts. I had to smile though, because as much as I appreciate Costco’s ability to bring organics into the store, the greater portion of their products are processed. Lines move so fast because people want to get in and out, and then stop for a GIANT slice of pizza and soda so that they don’t have to make lunch… or dinner. So while I waited in line (a whole two minutes longer than I had anticipated) I realized, gosh, I appreciate Whole Foods.

(Disclaimer: This is meant to be a silly glimpse into a place I frequent. Of course the bill can add up, when we start adding on higher quality junk food. But… the bill adds up elsewhere when we are shopping for convenience, including those doctor’s bills).

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