Sunday is grocery day in my house, and it is always a struggle to decide where to go. Over the last few weeks I have been a regular visitor to the Shattuck and El Cerrito farmers markets and a produce only grocery store, the Monterey Market. Today, Wendy and I were lookin’ for some non-farmers market essentials like toilet paper, soap, and mouthwash. We talked of Trader Joe’s or Safeway but I hate that everything comes prepackaged. Do I need a box inside a package inside a container? When did food packaging become so esoteric? Does it really help prevent spoilage or is it just more surface area for advertising!! This is a real turn-off. Just because I can recycle the packaging doesn’t mean I want to have to do that in the first place. I think the whole food industry is missing the boat.
I realized this when my parents came for a visit and I bought “conventional” groceries. We had to throw away bags from potato chips, paper from cereal boxes, milk containers from soy milk. It adds up. Even if you think that how you are eating is ethical- the organic potato chips or the antibiotic free milk, there is still the issue of waste to consider. How we make decisions about food should not exclude this concern.
Thanks Sara for bringing up this great point. I am going to do my part and try to buy food that doesn’t come prepackaged or have advertising on it. When I get produce, grains, nuts, and dried fruit in bulk I’ll try to reuse the plastic bag. Bringing cloth bags to the store also helps. When I eat out, I have a nifty little tin for leftovers a-la Sigg, a Swiss-based company. If all this works I’ll know because the trash can will need emptying much less.
For more on food and food packaging:
- an article about what you can do from the Univ. of Florida
- an article on the differences between the EU and US
- a new book by Barbara Kingsolver :: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
- image from another good resource, Californians Against Waste