One comes in compostable packaging, that will break down and add nutrients to the earth in less than a year.
The other comes packaged in a plastic jug, that will get tossed in a land fill, and still be recognizable in 100 years.
One, once opened is guaranteed to contain real juice … actual real juice, self contained in the same packaging that it grew in.
The other, says its fresh squeezed, but may have been sitting flavourless in a tank for up to a year.
One has a flavour that reflects the amount of sun it received when growing, and when it was picked, ensuring that each one will be a unique experience.
The other has a laboratory produced flavour from peels and oil based on a recipe, ensuring that each jug tastes exactly the same.
Find out more in Ms Allisa Hamilton’s book Squeezed: What you Don’t Know About Orange Juice
I don’t eat all that well when I’m tired and cranky.
Actually, let me rephrase that … I don’t take the time to purchase and prepare low crap food when I am tired and cranky.
I learned this about myself when I recently returned from a ten day business trip. I got home after dinner time and my fridge was lacking in fresh stuff … which leaves my fridge pretty empty indeed.
So I went shopping at the big box grocer that is open late and I found myself wandering around the store being tempted by the prepackaged stuff that I teach people to stay away from.
Even though I knew the food would leave me with a tummy ache, my tired cranky mood kept saying “I don’t care what you feed me … just feed me …”
It wasn’t too hard to find relatively low crap convenient food to take home … the hard part was trying to find low crap convenient food that wasn’t heavily packaged.
I didn’t do a very good job staying away from the packaging.
I came home from the store with two bags of groceries. One was full of fresh fruit and veggies. The other contained a hot, cooked chicken, a loaf of sprouted grain bread, and a small tub of mayonnaise … all great fixings for a low crap chicken sandwich … all heavily packaged in plastic.
A recent article makes the claim that “popcorn is a health food”. (Source Calgary Herald “Popcorn is a health food, says research” August 19, 2009 http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/Popcorn+health+food+says+research/1908039/story.html)
I don’t disagree with that in principle, and with so many forms of ‘popcorn’ out there it would be wise to examine which forms have the lowest crap factor.
High on my list of crappy popcorn would be any type of commercially prepared ‘candied popcorn’ … especially ones that contain high fructose corn syrup, food colouring, preservatives and other nasties.
Then there is the flavoured microwave popcorn. Just the smell of that stuff cooking puts my crap-factor-spidey-senses on full alert … not to mention the fact that some popcorn factory workers have developed lung cancer from breathing in the chemicals used to make fake butter and other flavourings. And what about the single use bag that holds the popcorn as it pops away in the microwave. While that bag may or may not be recyclable where you live, it is coated with chemicals that could contaminate the popcorn as it pops. Also, I’m just not a fan of cooking food in a microwave oven … just my personal preference.
I have heard it is possible to pop corn in the microwave using a paper lunch bag or glass bowl with a lid … but I have never tried it myself. This would seem to be a very low crap form of popcorn … except for the microwave part … again … just my personal opinion.
Then there is that pop in a jiffy stuff, specially created for popping over a campfire. Great idea, but I always wonder what nastiness the heated aluminum foil adds to the finished product … and again there is the issue of recycling the oil soaked aluminum after your done.
Those little hot air popcorn makers work well, although I have concerns about the non-stick coating and fumes from the plastic cover contaminating the corn as it pops.
Theatre popcorn, in my opinion, has a lower crap-factor rating, especially when I pay the extra 50 cents to have it topped with real butter and it is served to me in an environmentally friendly paper bag. I stay away from those flavourings in the shaker containers though … too many artificial ingredients that make my tongue feel yucky.
Popping corn in a pot on the stove with a little bit of oil, while not as convenient as other methods, is my favourite form of popcorn, mostly because I can purchase organic ingredients (popping corn, oil, sea salt) in bulk which cuts down on packaging and I can choose my own low crap flavourings.
BYOB has taken on a whole new meaning.
My local organic store, Sunnyside Market, carries quite a few things in bulk … including dish soap. And they are quite delighted when you bring your own container … or in this case, bottle.
My last plastic bottle of dish soap had a big crack in it, so it had to go to recycling.
I went looking through my cupboards for a suitable replacement and discovered this cleaned out glass olive oil bottle.
I should tell you that I am a bit of a glass bottle hoarder … meaning I have a hard time sending any glass bottle to recycling if I think there is a remote possibility that it may one day come in handy.
I remember cleaning out this bottle and if you have ever tried to clean out an olive oil bottle you will understand my pain because it takes a lot of hot water and dish soap to get that bottle oil free. I remember asking myself if my efforts, along with the extra hot water and soap were worth it.
Today I was feeling kind of smug … yes my efforts were absolutely worth it.
The great thing about reusing an olive oil bottle is that it has a ‘spout’ attachment that slows down the speed that liquid pours out. This little feature makes it quite suitable for refilling with dish soap … and the bottle looks much prettier than plastic.
I haven’t written for a few days. I have been dealing with plastic abundance causing feelings of overwhelm, confusion and depression.
Don’t worry … I’m not about to abandon civilization and move to some remote forest to live with wolves. But I am having to reframe my outlook.
As you know, since the beginning of July I have been engaged in a 30 day experiment to stay away from food in plastic packaging.
I have discovered that it is pretty much an impossible undertaking. To live without plastic food packaging is not convenient and many foods have to be avoided.
Here’s what I have learned:
- To stay away from plastic I have to drive my car to get to u-pick farms, farmer’s markets, butcher shops and bulk food stores.
- Much of the fresh produce, especially fruit, even at farmer’s markets, is packaged in plastic baskets or bags.
- Food packed in glass bottles have plastic lids with plastic security wraps.
- Most convenient food is wrapped in plastic to keep it fresh.
- Most people are oblivolious to the health and environmental problems associated with plastic.
When I speak to people about my plastic peeves, the most frequent response I get is a blank stare, then a compassionate sounding “… but its recyclable …” excuse. The second most frequent response is “… everything will kill us these days … what can you do…”
Everyone is feeling the same powerlessness when it comes to plastic and food.
Is plastic slowly killing us and our environment?
Is there a will to implement cost effective alternatives?
What will it take for society to change?
Is it too late to change?
Is this a battle worth fighting?
Yup – its time to for me to reframe my focus. My inner battle-weary-nature-spirit needs shoring up.
Its time for action.
The 1st Annual Buy-No-Food-In-Plastic Day has come and gone and I’ve heard some great stories from friends and family about how their plastic awareness was ignited.
The best story comes from someone I won’t name … She tells me she was having lunch with a coworker at a food court and enthusiastically talking about it being the 1st Annual Buy-No-Food-In-Plastic Day. As she was speaking she suddenly noticed that her food court food had been served in Styrofoam containers … oops …
When she sheepishly told me the story I cheered! Hooray! That tells me that the 1st Annual Buy-No-Food-In-Plastic Day succeeded in raising both her and her coworker’s plastic-awareness. Plastic is so integrated into daily life that we hardly even notice.
They then discussed how they could have easily brought down reusable plates and cutlery from the office kitchen.
Maybe next week they will.
It doesn’t matter if you succeeded in going 24 hours without purchasing plastic or not. What matters is that you became a little more plastic-aware.
Today is my birthday and you can wish me well by participating in the first annual Buy-No-Food-In-Plastic day. All you have to do is pay attention to how the food you purchase is packaged. And when you have a choice, choose food products that are self-packaged or in non-plastic containers.
Before a problem can be solved, we must first be aware that there is a problem. Do you remember when Big Mac’s and Quarter Pounders were served up in cancer-causing polystyrene aka Styrofoam?
More than 20 years ago McDonald’s assistant vice president was quoted in the New York Times: ”We use foam packaging for the same reasons that schools, hospitals and other restaurants do. It keeps our products hot, it keeps them fresh, its portable and it’s a safe and sanitary way to serve our product.” (http://www.nytimes.com/1987/11/11/nyregion/mcdonald-s-is-urged-to-alter-packaging.html Accessed: July 16, 2009).
Today, McDonald’s no longer uses foam packaging for its sandwiches and the change in packaging hasn’t seemed to hurt their business. Their sandwiches are still delivered hot, fresh, safe and sanitary … in benign paper-based wrapping.
Change can happen. It starts with awareness.
Its fairly rare to see food in Styrofoam packaging these days. But the packaging of choice is still predominately other types of plastic. Plastic keeps food fresh. Its portable. Its sanitary. It’s a wonder product. But is it safe? The evidence is mounting that it is not; not for lab rats, not for babies, not for adults, not for fish; not for water, not for landfills.
Today is the day to raise your plastic awareness. Can you go the whole day without purchasing food wrapped in plastic?
It’s a difficult challenge, but its not impossible.
Well here I am, half way through my PFF experiment. (PFF = Plastic-Free-Food … way easier to type than “30-Day-No-Food-Purchased-In-Plastic”.)
Eating PFF is not easy and as I reflect on the past 15 days I realize that I have had some wins and some slip ups.
For instance, I didn’t think I had to give up my daily whole milk latte habit. After all I was bringing my own cup to the coffee shop. But today I watched as the barista poured the milk for my latte out of a plastic jug. Crap! Ok technically I didn’t purchase the milk in the plastic jug … or did I?
Then there are the herbs I bought in China town yesterday that were all sealed in plastic bags. I was buying the herbs for my business, so I didn’t think I was compromising the experiment. And I wasn’t … well not until I tore into the bag of Goji berries for a snack. I was well into my third fist full of the berries before I noticed the plastic bag in my hand.
One day on the weekend I was at the big box grocery deli and wanted a quick, high protein snack. I scanned the deli case and spied unwrapped sausage rolls. I told the clerk I wanted one, but I didn’t want the plastic take out tub that they use. I suggested that she simply wrap it in a paper towel. She said she could put it in a plastic bag instead. I told her “No! I don’t want plastic!”
I didn’t mean to yell … I apologized and tried to explain about my PFF experiment … but I’m pretty sure she rolled her eyes at me as she handed me the paper wrapped roll. I shrugged my shoulders and proceeded to pull off all the crappy white flour pastry and then ate just the meat part. It wasn’t very good.
So I stopped at the organic store on the way home and picked up a few handfuls of fresh cherries, using one of my cloth bags instead of a plastic bag. The clerk in that store gave me a 5 cent bag discount. The cherries were delicious.
This Friday, July 17th is your turn to experiment with PFF purchases. Write in and let me know your experiences.
Since there are so many new readers this week, I thought I’d give you a quick catch-up on what’s going on at LowCrapDiet.com and then we’ll talk about ketchup.
Low Crap Diet is about cutting ‘crap food’ out of our diet … improve our health; improve the health of the earth.
Lately I’ve been cranky about plastic and other throw away packaging. In fact I became so frustrated with all the low crap food in high crap packaging that I decided to try a 30 day buy-no-food-in-plastic experiment. Feeling a little lonely in my experiment, I invited you to join me by declaring Friday, July 17, 2009 to be the first annual “Buy No Food in Plastic” day. (Better start getting organized … Friday is only two days away.)
Now that you are all caught up, here’s the promised ‘ketchup’ bit.
I’ve always wondered why “returnable glass bottles” didn’t catch on for more products. It’s a brilliantly sustainable system. When I purchase milk in a glass bottle, I pay a ‘deposit’ on the bottle as incentive to bring it back to the store so it can be refilled. When I return the bottle the deposit is refunded. It works for milk and pop and there is no reason it couldn’t work for other consumable products.
I’d like to see the following products in returnable glass bottles:
- feta cheese
- cooking oil
- nut butters
- stewed tomatoes
- bar-b-que sauce
- ice cream
I think you get the picture and you can probably add other products that you regularly purchase.
The ability to purchase ketchup in a refillable glass bottle would remove a huge amount of ketchup’s crap-factor.