October 25, 2014

8 Health Tips From The Morgue

The people who handle your postmortem remains — from the funeral director to the (if you so choose) anatomy professor — are in a unique position to make an example of your body. They have access to some very personal information regarding your implants, diseases, and snack habits. Tony Weinhaus, PhD (director of anatomy at the University of Minnesota) and Jennifer Wright (embalmer and director of Sunset Funeral Care) say that working with dead bodies allows them to provide knowledge and comfort to students and the deceased person’s family members, respectively. Wright and Dr. Weinhaus also see firsthand how people’s lifestyles and habits factor into their overall health.

“Working with the body, you realize to some degree that it’s a machine,” Dr. Weinhaus says. “Muscles move bones, and the heart is a pump. You can see and appreciate how everything needs to work, [and] how things can go bad pretty easily.” He describes it almost like an eerie episode of Scared Straight: Many of his students don’t think about their own mortality, but when they see diseases lingering in these bodies, they realize very quickly how important it is to prevent chronic conditions — before it’s too late.  
Sure, death isn’t as pretty a source of health inspiration as, say, Pinterest — but, that doesn’t make it any less relevant. Here, Dr. Weinhaus and Wright pull back the morgue curtain and share its real stories and health secrets.

Heart Disease
As reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and just about everyone else, cardiovascular disease is the number-one cause of death worldwide. Dr. Weinhaus reports that his students find a significant amount of plaque around the carotid arteries of the cadavers they’re examining. These arteries, which are located in the lower neck, are responsible for supplying blood to the brain. Dr. Weinhaus’ cadavers also reveal signs of other heart complications — such as pacemakers that have been inserted to regulate abnormal heartbeats and rhythms.

“Cadavers with pacemakers or defibrillators are great teaching opportunities,” he explains. “They stay in, so students can dissect around them and examine how blood traveled to regulate heartbeat.”

Tip: To avoid heart problems, think preventively. According to WHO, behavioral risk factors are responsible for 80% of coronary heart disease occurrences. Simple lifestyle changes (such as upping fruit and vegetable intake and sweating it out a few times a week) can significantly lower this risk.  

Obesity & Diabetes
Harvard Health has previously reported abdominal fat can increase risk for cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. “Diabetes has taken away many toes and legs,” says Wright.

Tip: Kill two birds with one stone (or, rather, keep them alive). A study published in The Journal of Applied Physiology finds that a varied workout program can help decrease body fat and improve blood-sugar levels. And, these workouts don’t always have to fall on the intense end of the spectrum. You’d be surprised what a few downward dogs can do for your core. 

Skin Problems & Discoloration 
Liver conditions such as cirrhosis or hepatitis can lead to jaundice, which causes a yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. “The first response is a fatty liver, and the more this tissue is damaged, the smaller and harder the liver becomes, increasing the chances for jaundice,” Dr. Weinhaus explains. The green bile that an inflamed or infected gallbladder emits can also discolor skin.

Tip: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women are more at risk for cirrhosis than men. The whole “everything in moderation” thing still rings true, though. Scaling back on those a-little-too-happy hours and greasy foods can do your health a solid.  

Respiratory Issues
“There is a staggering difference between smoker and non-smoker lungs,” Dr. Weinhaus says. “Smoker lungs are very black and ugly…students can pinpoint the texture of a developing tumor…and the air sacs in the lungs are just totally destroyed. [It makes] many of my students realize they don’t want to be smokers.”

Tip: You guessed it! Don’t smoke. If you are a smoker, consider quitting — which, by the way, it’s never too late to do. According to a report published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, older adults who finally put out the habit reduced their risk of stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular disease in as little as five years. Airway inflammation will start to decrease, improving breathing and exercise capacity in the process, says Norman Edelman, MD (former chief medical officer of the American Lung Association) in TIME. Unfortunately, the lungs of a long-time smoker never fully heal, Dr. Edelman adds, especially if the habit has led to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

Alzheimer’s Disease
“When you look at a brain, those bumps and grooves are known as the gyri and sulci; the crevices in the brain being the sulci,” Dr. Weinhaus says. “In a person with [advanced] Alzheimer’s, the sulci are deeper than they would be in a brain without the disease.” Depression also causes grey-matter reductions,but it’s too subtle of an illness to be physically detected in the body after death.

Tip: Science is still working on how patients can stop, or at the very least slow, the progression of Alzheimer’s. However, exercising has previously been linked to improving overall brain health and memory. The same goes for meditation.  

Cancer is the leading cause of death for clients at Wright’s funeral home. But, beyond lingering tumors and an emaciated body (which can stem from aggressive treatments), cancer can’t always be physically detected in a cadaver. The type of cancer that does have visible markers is esophageal cancer. The esophagus is a tube that moves food from the throat to stomach, and if cancer compromises that tube, surgeons will remove it and rebuild it from parts of your stomach or large intestine, Dr. Weinhaus says. In fact, most of the bodies he has seen in his classroom have had pieces of these organs where the throat would normally be.

Tip: Cancer Research U.K. recently announced a new initiative that will delve deeper into cancer prevention, since “more than four in 10 cancer cases could be prevented by lifestyle changes such as not smoking, keeping a healthy body weight, cutting back on alcohol, eating a healthy diet, keeping active, and staying safe in the sun.” To Wright, cancer is often due to the fact that “we are such a society of convenience,” often consuming processed, quick-to-make foods. While eating organic has not been proven to reduce cancer, it does mean consuming less additives and chemicals that have beenlinked to cancer.  

Unhealthy Arteries & Veins
Wright doesn’t often see organs as an embalmer; this view is reserved for the medical examiners performing autopsies. However, she does see arteries and veins, and she has never seen healthier ones than those in vegetarians. “A healthy artery is rubbery and cream-colored,” she says. Unhealthy ones, on the other hand, “are more of a red color, and extremely thin and delicate… I have embalmed 90-year-old vegetarians who have arteries that look like they belong to a 20-year-old.” Of course, it’s important to note that correlation doesn’t mean causation; Wright can’t prove that meat consumption itself causes unhealthy arteries.

Tip: Many people have issues with meat — from the way farmed animals are mistreated to reports that link meat to increased cancer risk. But, we’re not about to tell you to turn a blind eye to burgers. What we will say is that the quality of meat (grass-fed and organic vs. conventional) as well as the amount we eat makes a difference. Plus, the organic variety tends to be more expensive, which can motivate us to limit it to special occasions. Two words: Meatless Mondays. Giving meat up just once a week lessens your risk for chronic, preventable conditions.  

Mortician Caitlin Doughty’s memoir, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From The Crematory chronicles her years spent cremating bodies of all ages and all causes of death. Yet it was the bodies with decubitus ulcers — open wounds on the skin — that left a lasting image. Doughty describes these as a “unique psychological horror.” These types of ulcers often come from extended (think weeks) immobility. As a rule, bedridden patients are required to be moved every few hours; without movement, the body will begin to decay while you’re still living, which results in what Doughty calls “football-sized” wounds. She notes that these ulcers often can’t be avoided, since many hospitals and nursing homes are understaffed.

Tip: While not quite preventative healthcare, choosing a quality care facility is crucial. Sites like and Healthgrades work to help people do just that.

14 Things Nutritionists Do on Halloween That You Don’t

They don't get "fun-size" candy
If it’s smaller, it’s healthier, right? Not exactly. Miniature candies can lead to overeating; save them for trick-or-treaters, not for your pantry. “Get normal sizes, because the fun-size you have to buy in bulk,” says nutritionist Rania Batayneh, MPH, author of The One One One Diet. “You don’t think it adds up because they’re small, but they can add an extra 200 to 400 calories a day.” If you crave sweets, purchase a normal candy bar. Eat half, then stash the rest in the freezer for another time.

They avoid candy corn
“There’s nothing good from candy corn—just don’t touch it,” says Brooke Alpert, RD, founder of B Nutritious, a New York City-based counseling practice. “At least a Snickers bar has nuts, which can slow the absorption of sugar down. With candy corn, you may as well be injecting sugar into your bloodstream.” Nutritionist Robert Ferguson, CN, author of Diet-Free for Life, avoids licorice with trans fats (though he loves the natural kind), and Batayneh says even though she wouldn’t completely exclude anything from her diet, she tries to avoid high-sugar candies, like mellowcreme pumpkins.

They watch for these three ingredients:
“I let my kids keep all the candy they get—as long as it doesn’t have trans fatty acids in it,” says Ferguson. “As a parent, I’d avoid any foods made with three ingredients: partially hydrogenated oils, fractionated oils, and interesterified oils.” All three can be spotted on ingredient lists, and contain unhealthy fats that have been linked to conditions like heart disease and obesity.

They play games to resist temptation
“Put a glass jar on your desk, and every time you have the willpower to forego the office candy jar, give yourself a dollar,” says Joy Bauer, RD, nutrition and health expert for NBC’s TODAY show, and founder of Nourish Snacks. “At the end of the week, you have a glass full of money you can use to go pamper yourself with something special."

They wait until the last minute to get candy
“Halloween is one day,” says Alpert. “People start stocking up on candy October 1. That’s not the time.” Save candy shopping for the week of the 31st. “Otherwise, you’re going to be left with this candy around and it’s going to be very hard to resist,” she says.

They make healthy treats easy
“Here’s my easiest recipe ever: I take vanilla low-fat Greek yogurt, and I mix it with a dollop of 100 percent pumpkin puree,” says Bauer. “I shake on nutmeg or ground cinnamon, and I top it with toasted pecans or walnuts. There you have a pumpkin pudding for 150 calories.”

They're wary of coffee bars
It’s the time of year when pumpkin lattes and gooey almond tarts make a sugary breakfast all too tempting. A medium Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte with 2 percent milk packs 380 calories, 49 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of fat (8 of which are saturated fat). “Caffeine, when combined with large amounts of sugar, shifts the body into a fat-storing mode,” says Ferguson. If you’re really craving a PSL, try a small, non-fat version.

They celebrate with other fall foods
“Halloween is so much more than just the candy,” says Janet Helm, RD, author of The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook. “It’s about celebrating the things that are in season during the fall. I’ll have warm apple cider spiced with cinnamon sticks or roast pumpkin seeds.” Another one of her favorite healthy alternative treats: baked apples. Try coring an apple, stuffing it with raisins, cinnamon, and sugar, and baking in a pan until soft (with a little water so it doesn’t dry out). You can also celebrate Halloween with canned pumpkin for breakfast, which feels festive without candy. “Add canned pumpkin puree to pancakes and waffle batter, then add some pumpkin spice or nutmeg,” Helm says. “That’s delicious and very easy.”

They manage their kids' expectations up front
Most nutrition experts agree that it’s helpful to inform kids ahead of time that they can’t keep—or eat—an entire pillowcase’s worth of sugar. Calmly explain they'll be able to select only their favorite candies. “If you make it a big deal, saying, ‘We’re going to take away your candy,’ of course they’re going to be upset,” says Alpert. “For my daughter, the real excitement is just the getting of it, not the actual eating. She loves Tootsie Rolls, and it kills me, but I let her have them.”

They're smart about leftovers
Remove the temptation to overindulge after trick-or-treating. “I have three kids and many Halloweens under my belt,” says Bauer. “We would do this whole feel-good thing about going into New York City, putting candy in packages, and giving them to homeless people and food kitchens. My kids really loved that aspect of it, and they also got to eat their favorites.” Many dentist’s offices will also reward children by handing out prizes or money for every pound of candy they turn in (the sweets are then often sent to troops overseas). Find a Halloween Candy Buyback program near you here.

They indulge in dark chocolate
“That’s my go-to Halloween candy,” says Ferguson. “It’s satiating and satisfying. The higher the cocoa content, the better.” Chocolate high in cocoa is higher in disease-preventing flavonoids, and its slightly bitter taste makes you naturally more mindful of how much you eat. As a treat, it's relatively healthy when paired with protein, says Batayneh. “I would do some dark chocolate, or even a little Snickers, with a cup of milk,” she says. Pairing sugar with a protein like milk helps stabilize your blood sugar, meaning you won't fall victim to an insulin spike that'd leave you even hungrier.

They sip healthier drinks at Halloween parties
“I stick with wine at Halloween parties, because it’s packed with antioxidants and it also lasts a bit longer than other drinks,” says Ferguson. “You can pace your time at the party. With beer you often drink it a little faster, and if you do a shot, you’re drinking that even faster.” Red wine is also a healthy alternative to sugary holiday drinks, so try a glass of Pinot Noir (or, healthier still, seltzer with lime).

They get creative with party recipes
Heading to a potluck? Don’t bring a store-bought pumpkin pie. Instead, get clever using foods that will help keep you fuller, longer. “I have made really fun things where I use the pumpkin as a serving dish,” says Helm. Her go-to party pick: Carve out and clean the inside of a small pumpkin, and use it to serve fresh vegetables and a pumpkin hummus dip (combine pumpkin puree with your favorite hummus and fall spices).

They skip the guilt trip
“My whole philosophy is 90/10,” says Bauer. “90 percent healthy, 10 percent fun. If you go out of your way 90 percent of the time to make really smart, high-quality food choices, we all have wiggle room.” Her favorite wiggle-room candy? Butterfingers. And don’t feel guilty about that afternoon chocolate bar. “If you’re going to eat a dessert, you should feel good about it,” says Alpert. “If you feel guilty about what you’re indulging in, you might continue to make bad food choices. For example: 'I ate too much candy today, so the day is blown and I'll just have a slice of pizza for dinner'.”

Dirty Restaurant Secrets the Kitchen Crew Won't Tell You

What's going on back there? Keep your budget and health in check with these insider secret restaurant tips from the other side of the kitchen doors.

Our waiters don't wipe down the menus between customers...
...or salt and pepper, or bottles of ketchup and mustard. It may come as no surprise to a germaphobe that restaurant kitchens are bacteria paradise. But bugs dwell on tabletop items too. Good Morning America sent a team of scientists to swab the items on the tables of 12 restaurants, including the items mentioned above. They found that menus carried the most germs, with an average count of 185,000 bacteria—nearly 16 times that of the second most germ-infested item, pepper shakers. (Everyone looks at the menu. Not everyone loves pepper.) Next time you're out, place your order. Then wash your hands before you eat.

We get sick, too.
But taking a sick day is not always the reality. According to a recent study by The Food Chain Workers Alliance, 53 percent of food chain workers reported going to work when sick. “A lot of poor, transient people work in restaurants,” says Peter Francis, coauthor of industry exposé How to Burn Down the House, in Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney. “They're not giving up the $100 they'd make in a shift because they're sick.” Keep an eye out for chefs sitting on the sidewalk smoking, sneezing, and coughing in their hands, says Chris Gesualdi, chef instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education.

Sometimes we touch more than food with our plastic gloves on.
Plastic gloves give cooks—and therefore, customers—a false sense of security. “Plastic gloves are more dangerous than bare hands,” says Howard Cannon, CEO of Restaurant Expert Witness and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Restaurant. Michael Laiskonis, a New York pastry chef, agrees. “It’s easy to touch raw pork, then move onto touching another food item. Those very gloves become the vehicle for contamination when not changed often enough, or worse, when the same gloved hands that prepare food then go into a cash register.”

If our bathroom's dirty, imagine what our kitchen looks like.
For a clear sign of a restaurant’s sanitation standards, just step into the restroom. “Reality is when the bathroom is filthy and every customer can see, just imagine how dirty the kitchen is where the customer can't see,” says Cannon. Just because employees must wash their hands before returning to work doesn’t mean you—or your food—are safe.

That marked-up pasta dish pays my wages.
You know something like pasta costs only a few pennies and is usually topped with something that costs only a little more. But it’s safe to assume you won’t see $1.50 rigatoni on a menu any time soon. Bottom line, restaurants need to turn a profit. “At a fine-dining restaurant, the average cost of food is 38 to 42 percent of the menu price,” says Kevin Moll, CEO and president of National Food Service Advisors, in Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney. You also might be charged for sharing, cutting, corking, and other services that require minimal manpower. Markups help pay for kitchen labor, wait staff, décor, music, advertising, or even real estate costs.

We just dish it out. We don't count the calories.
Many of calorie counts on menus are inaccurate. And even worse, most inaccuracies lie within the “healthy” part of the menu. According to a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, about one in five “low-calorie” menu options contain 100 more calories than menus state. Portion sizes and cooking procedures vary widely in the sit-down restaurant world, leading to a wide range of actual calorie content. In fact, more accurate calorie counts can be found in fast-food chains, where ingredients come to cooks already portioned.

A reservation isn’t necessarily a guarantee.
What's more attractive: the loud and bustling restaurant or the empty joint next door? Exactly. Because of this, restaurants often overbook in order to fill their tables. “Overbooking is almost a necessary evil,” says John Fischer, associate professor of table service at the Culinary Institute of America, in Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney. On any given night, restaurants calculate their average no-show percentage and overbook the restaurant by that much, hoping it will even out. But for the more popular spots, the scale ends up tipping toward a case of overbooking.

50 Supermarket Tricks You Still Fall For

Food experts, industry analysts, and store employees share their insider strategies on how to save money on groceries, stay healthy, and beat the supermarkets at their own game.

We’re very aware of the role that the senses play in marketing.
When you walk in the door, you smell bread baking or rotisserie chicken roasting in the deli area because we know those smells get your salivary glands working. When you’re salivating, you’re a much less disciplined shopper. —Paco Underhill, consumer expert and author of What Women Want: The Science of Female Shopping

It’s no accident that shopping carts are getting bigger.
We doubled their size as a test, and customers bought 19 percent more. —Martin Lindstrom, marketing consultant and author of Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy

The more people buy, the more they consume.
If you used to buy a six-pack of soda and drink six cans a week but now buy a 12-pack because that’s the current standard size, you’re probably going to start drinking 12 cans a week. Be mindful when buying larger sizes to make sure your habits don’t change as a result. —Jeff Weidauer, former supermarket executive and vice president of marketing for Vestcom, a retail services company

The average consumer tends to remember the price of only four items:
Milk, bread, bananas, and eggs. Ninety-five percent of shoppers have no idea what all the other items cost and don’t know if they’re getting a good deal when they buy them. —Martin Lindstrom

The produce department is at the front of the store because...
its bright colors put you in a good mood and inspire you to buy more. That’s why I recommend that you start shopping in the middle of the store, with its bland boxes and cans. —Phil Lempert, grocery industry expert and editor of

Over 60 percent of shoppers off-load products as they check out.
So supermarkets started making checkout lanes narrower, with less shelf space, which means it’s harder to ditch goods at the last minute. —Martin Lindstrom

We let you linger … and it’s good for business.
Customers would tell me as they went through the checkout, “I just stopped in to get eggs,” and they would have $250 worth of stuff. —Jason Swett, former bagger and cashier at a grocery store in Kalamazoo, Michigan

To save money, wear headphones and listen to upbeat music as you shop.
Many stores play music with a rhythm that’s much slower than the average heartbeat, which makes you spend more time in the store—and buy 29 percent more. —Martin Lindstrom

Supermarkets aren’t out to steal from you.
The average supermarket makes about 1.5 percent net profit a year. To give you some idea of how low that is, the profit margin for clothing stores can be several times that. —Phil Lempert

Kroger uses heat sensors... track where people are in the store to determine when there’s likely to be a rush of shoppers to the checkout counters so that they can get cashiers to the front in advance. —Jeff Weidauer

Please have your money or credit card ready at checkout.
Some stores time each transaction. If you take too long, we get in trouble. —Aimee Brittain, former grocery cashier,

In my experience, food safety is the biggest priority...
...especially when it comes to produce. Employees were required to sterilize cutting boards every four hours; they had to fill out a cleaning log each time the boards were washed. Some employees would try to get out of doing the dirty work, so it was my job to pop into the department throughout the day and check the log. —Linda King, former store and department manager for a Connecticut chain

One thing that shocked me... that prepared food in the deli area, like chicken or potatoes, is thrown away at the end of the day. Stores can’t save it. They won’t even give it to their employees. —Aimee Brittain

Grocery stores can’t compete with Walmart on price.
So what are they doing? Bringing in people who are passionate about food. They’re hiring butchers who are skilled at cutting up meat, produce managers who are experts on fruits and vegetables, and a few dietitians who give seminars on healthy eating habits. —Jeff Weidauer

Most grocery stores have a budget for supporting local causes...
...and are interested in being a part of the community. So if your school is having a fund-raiser, don’t forget to talk to your nearby store. —Jeff Weidauer

You can’t win when you’re a bagger.
If you put a loaf of bread in a bag by itself, some people get mad because they want it with their other groceries. But other customers get mad if you don’t put the bread in a 
separate bag. —Jason Swett

People believe milk is located in the back of the store... that they have to walk through the aisles to get to it. But the real reason is simple logistics. Milk needs to be refrigerated right away; the trucks unload in the back, so the fridges are there so that we can fill the cases as quickly and easily as possible. —Jeff Weidauer

About 80 percent of what shoppers buy, they buy every week.
Keep your receipt, which shows the item and the price you last paid, so you can tell when something is on sale. That’s when you should stock up. —Phil Lempert

If you need a cake, don’t buy it the day you need it.
We’ll have to give you one from the display case, and those cakes have often been sitting out for a while. If you order in advance, we’ll make the cake for you that day or the night before, and it will be a lot fresher. —Lindsay Smith, former cake decorator and bakery worker at a grocery store near Birmingham, Alabama

Believe it or not... years of research have found that the average apple you see in the supermarket is 14 months old…or older. —Martin Lindstrom

Some of the same cheeses displayed behind the deli counter...
...are available in the dairy case. The packaging isn’t as fancy, but they’re much cheaper. —Phil Lempert

The mist that’s sprayed on your fruits and veggies...
...may make them look fresh, but it can make them rot faster. The water also adds to an item’s weight, so make sure you shake off leafy greens. —Martin Lindstrom

We recycle the vegetables and fruits that don’t sell in time... using them in our prepared foods. —Bradley McHugh

In a supermarket, a good sale is anything that’s half price.
“Buy one, get the second one 50 percent off” discounts are not good sales—that’s only 25 percent off each. Almost everything is reduced to 50 percent at some point. —Teri Gault

The store I worked at would make some of its sales very specific...
...and, in my opinion, very deceptive. For example, it would offer 50 percent off a ten-ounce package of deli ham and put the sign right between the ten-ounce packages and the 16-ounce ones. Shoppers would wind up grabbing the wrong one and paying full price. —Jason Swett

Customers think that when they buy in bulk, they end up with a better deal.
But that’s not always the case. In the produce department, individual peppers are almost always cheaper than those in the multi-packs, and loose avocados are usually cheaper than the ones grouped in mesh bags. —Teri Gault

The ten-for-$10 promotion is one of the most effective.
When a store does it, volume takes off, even if the promotion raises the price of something. We’ll take an 89-cent can of tuna and mark it “ten for $10,” 
and instead of buying six cans for 89 cents, people will buy ten for $10. —Jeff Weidauer

Do not assume...
...that if something is displayed at the end of an aisle, it is a good deal. Often, it’s not. Those endcaps are sold specifically to companies trying to promote a product. —Paco Underhill

Just because something is advertised in your grocery store circular...
...doesn’t mean it’s on sale. There’s a whole lot in there that’s full price. —Teri Gault

Grocery stores usually don’t have the best milk prices.
The milk at drugstores and convenience stores is typically priced 30 to 50 cents less per gallon; it may even be locally produced and hormone-free. —Teri Gault

Do you like the hot pizza from the deli?
It’s likely the same store-brand pizza offered over in the freezer section for almost half the price per slice. —Bradley McHugh, meat manager and deli clerk for an independent grocery store in Ohio

At the fresh seafood counter...
...most products are labeled previously frozen in small type. Those same products are probably for sale in the frozen-food case for 40 percent less. Not only that, but you won’t have to use them right away, since they haven’t been thawed out. —Phil Lempert

I’ve tasted every item in our deli case...
...and there’s very little difference between what’s been prepackaged and what we slice fresh. A lot of times, it’s the exact same product. But you’re paying $1 to $2 more per pound for the same product just to have us slice it for you. —Bradley McHugh

When you buy fresh bread...
...we give it to you in a brown paper bag. Why? Because the bread may go stale faster, sending you back to the store to buy more. A quick fix: Place loaves in airtight plastic bags as soon as you get home. —Lindsay Smith

Our French bread was exactly the same as our Italian bread...
...which was the same as our White Mountain bread. They were all made with the same dough and then shaped differently. —Lindsay Smith

If we’re having a sale on a baked item...
...and you don’t need it until the next month, ask if you can buy it now, during the sale, but not pick it up until your event. We let people do that all the time. They bring back their receipt a month later and get their order. —A cake decorator in an Ohio grocery store

If you see something in the bakery...
...or meat department that will expire the next day, say, “Hey, this is expiring tomorrow. Are you going to mark it down?” A lot of times, they’ll mark it down for you right then. You’re really doing them a favor, since they have to unload it anyway. —Teri Gault

There’s a lot that grocery store employees will do for you if you just ask.
The butcher will tenderize meat for you, the baker will slice a loaf of bread, and the florist will usually give you free greenery to go with your loose flowers. At some stores owned by Kroger, the seafood department worker will even coat your fish in flour or Cajun seasoning and fry it up for free. I couldn’t believe it the first time they did that for me. —Teri Gault, grocery savings expert and CEO of

Is there a product you want that the store doesn’t carry?
Talk to the manager. A lot of today’s supermarkets will special-order things for you. They’ll even arrange to bring something in for you on a regular basis. —Jeff Weidauer

If you can, shop when the store is not busy.
Studies show that most consumers buy more when the store is crowded because they 
subconsciously want to be part of the group. Mondays and Tuesdays are the best days to shop. Whatever you do, avoid weekends. —Phil Lempert

It’s almost always cheaper to buy a large cut and have us trim it for you.
We can cut a chuck roast into stew cubes, a whole boneless strip loin into New York strip steaks, or a flank steak into stir-fry strips. We’ve had people buy one big roast and have us remove the bone for soup, run half of it through the grinder for hamburger, and cut the rest into a pot roast. That can save you about 30 percent compared with buying everything cut. —Bradley McHugh

Just because a cut of meat is labeled Angus doesn’t mean it’s going to be a great steak.
What you really want to check is its USDA quality grade. Prime is the best, then choice (usually the highest grade available in grocery stores), followed by select, and finally standard. —Kari Underly, former grocery store meat cutter and author of The Art of Beef Cutting: A Meat Professional’s Guide to Butchering and Merchandising

Find out when your butcher marks down meat.
At most stores, it’s between eight and ten in the morning. —Teri Gault

One of our best-kept secrets... that you get filet mignon much cheaper by buying whole T-bone steaks. Every T-bone has a small filet mignon on the bone, and a New York strip on the opposite side. The price difference can be $3 to $5 a pound. —Bradley McHugh

If you’re worried about what’s in your ground meat... a piece of roast when it’s on sale and have your butcher grind it up for you in-store. A sirloin roast would be so delicious as hamburger. —Kari Underly

When I was training as a health inspector...
...the instructors beat into our heads how to inspect restaurants. But there was very little training focused on grocery stores. They took us through a grocery store in one day and then turned us loose, even though the stores have all this processing equipment that’s tough to clean. And I have to admit, I’d look at some of these machines on my inspections and say, “Yep, looks good.” But I didn’t really know what I was looking for. —Grocery store public health consultant

 When you buy prepackaged ground meat in one of those tubes or foam containers... may have come from hundreds of cows. If just one of those cows had E. coli on its hide, it’s now in your hamburger. If you ask a grocery store meat cutter to grind your hamburger in the store, it’s coming from just one cow. There’s still a risk of contamination, but it’s a much lower one. —Bill Marler, food-safety advocate and Seattle attorney who has frequently sued food companies

Everyone handles the produce.
I’ve seen customers drop something, pick it up, and put it back on the shelf. I’ve seen kids take a bite and put the item back. It took me a long time to start eating fresh fruits and vegetables again after working in a store. —Aimee Brittain

In almost every store we walk into...
...the employees tell us they don’t have enough time to clean properly. The result: I’ve seen some mice infestations so bad that they were living in the dairy cooler. —Grocery store public health consultant

The carts never get cleaned.
I’ve seen babies soiling carts and carts with chicken juice leaking on them. That’s why I give them a once-over with my own sanitizing wipes. —Aimee Brittain

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