February 22, 2018

5 Things to Never Buy from a Bulk Bin

Sure, shopping in bulk is usually a more cost-effective way to buy staples.

There are two potential problems with bulk bins, and they both stem from the fact that they are usually not air-tight.

  • Their contents can get contaminated with micro-organisms and insects.
  • Foods become rancid as they sit there, exposed to oxygen.  Not only will you get stale food, the food is no longer as nutritious, and quite possibly, toxic to your body. Stale food has a bitter flavour, and a chemical-like odour.

For these reasons, here are a few items that should NEVER be purchased from a scoop-up style bulk bin:

  • Flax meal
  • Hemp seed
  • Ground chia seed (a.k.a. salba)
  • Whole grain flour
  • Almond meal
  • Granola
  • Dried fruit
  • Lecithin granules

What’s left to purchase from bulk bins?

Generally, foods that will be cooked before consuming are the safest items in the bulk aisle:

  • Dried pasta
  • Beans and lentils
  • Whole grains* (Take a whiff of them first; if they smell like chemicals, they are rancid.)
  • Dried seasonings  (herbs, spices, salt)

Special mention: Not all bulk bins are bad! There is a type of vertical “gravity” style of bulk bin that greatly reduces the risk of contamination and spoilage.  Look for these at better health food stores.


  • Buy smaller quantities more often.
  • Use the foods shortly after purchase.
  • Store oily bulk foods in the freezer are good ways to get only the best from of them.

Remember: whole foods are only good for us if they are FRESH.  The fact that they are more nutrient-dense than processed foods is what makes whole foods more perishable.


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