Good food without plastic? So no convenience food then! Have you gone completely mad???
I’ve gone from high level convenience to minute level plastic over a number of years. And all because I have ‘that sort of mind’. As soon as I know something, I can’t let it go. I have to take action. Honestly, there are times when it’s a burden.
Perfect example – I visited the local council meeting to hear them declare a climate emergency. I really wish I’d been late and missed the report about recycling. Apparently our town was doing very well to actively recycle 40% of what goes in the bin. Many councils were much worse.
40%! I was horrified. I assumed that if I got stuff in the right bin it would actually be recycled, when in fact 60% was being sent to other countries for burning or dumping on land or sea. (NB: latest statistics show that the amount our town recycles has increased to 64% which is great – only 36% is dumped now!)
Back to the elephantine memory.
The next time I walked into the supermarket, all I could see was plastic. I did a terrible shop that day. I refused to buy half the stuff I needed. Now I knew recycling was unreliable the only option was to stop using the stuff. B****r it!
As I thought about it, I realised I had the blueprint. I just had to go back to how we shopped when I was a kid – and even when I was first married.
There was the greengrocer who had all the fruit and veg for viewing and a load of brown paper bags to put them in. Then they were loaded into the shopping bag I’d brought with me.
The baker put each loaf in one paper bag and cakes or buns in another.
Sugar was weighed out from a huge sack and slid into the paper bag from the scales dish – I used to love watching that. Dried fruit, sweets, herbs all went the same way.
Flour came from the mill in its own heavy duty paper bag.
Milk was delivered to the door in a glass bottle that was returned for sterilisation and reuse.
So all I had to do was recreate this in our modern world. Some fruit and veg is unwrapped in the supermarket – just needed to take my own bags. Olives and cheese required me to provide my own box. It was a bit of a chore persuading staff to do this without putting plastic film between the box and the scales, but they’ve got the measure of it at last. And then there was the farm shop, where the fruit and veg is laid out, naked as nature intended.
The blessed refill shop
That left nuts, fruit, crisps, cereal, beans, chocolate ……. Quite a significant list. And a struggle until the advent of the Refill Shop. Now my favourite of all places. There’s something very satisfying – sorting out the empty pots, taking them all with me, filling up and weighing them. Then just slotting them back into the same place in the kitchen drawer as if nothing has happened.
General rubbish (including those soft plastic fruit and veggie bags) has reduced from one bag a week to one every four weeks. The recycling bin contains far less – only half full every two weeks – and limited to glass and tin. And a lovely spin off – I know the people I buy my food from. They know my name and welcome me each week as I come in for my veggies, trailing my glass jars. Shopping has become a social occasion – and that is the way it used to be when I was a kid.
So back to convenience food
Come on guys – let’s ask the question. Do we really need our potatoes ready peeled and buttered? Could we actually manage to pull the leaves off a corn cob all on our own? And is it essential to have our beans unstrung for us or might we get out a sharp knife and do it ourselves?
Not to mention the pots of hummus and the garlic bread that is so delicious? We were eating about four pots of hummus a week – that’s 208 plastic pots in the dump in one year just from us. I’ve made it before, so that started me thinking. I discovered it takes me all of 5 minutes to make a batch with just five ingredients and a blender. And no plastic pots.
I’ve worked at it and a lot of what we think of as convenience food is possible to make in a short amount of time – but let’s save that for another blog where I’ll have room for some of my favourite recipes. That ‘ll save you one job at least