My recent goal has been to say good-bye to packaged foods. For two simple reasons.
I live on an island. The recycling program is abysmal. I actually have nine bins for recycling. Nine. Glass. Glass refundable. Plastic refundable. Plastic #1 and 2 only. Aluminum cans refundable. Tin cans. Newspaper. Scrap paper. Cardboard. All to be resorted almost daily, because such an inane system is hard for our guests in our farm stay cottages to comprehend. And all to be taken to the transfer station weekly. And then who knows where exactly it all goes from there. I would like to believe it really gets repurposed, but remain somewhat skeptical. So, what is left goes into the landfill. A landfill which is dangerously overfull, while the County endlessly debates where to put the next one. Even after recycling, there is at least a garbage can a week that goes out to the curb to get taken to that bulging landfill. So, the actual packaging of packaged food is an important issue for me.
I want to live a long and healthy life. In order to help that goal along, I am a compulsive label reader. The labels on most of the packaged foods are downright scary. I cannot even pronounce much of it, must less comprehend what chemicals are in it attempting to masquerade as food. Buying less processed foods is healthier and surely more delicious.
I simply cannot agree with the argument that these foods are easier and faster to prepare. What could be so difficult about having some brown rice cooking while you sauté some cut up chicken and add some vegetables? Or remembering to soak some black beans the evening before and adding vegetables, some chicken broth for a divine soup? I just don't get it. Making your own broth to add is also easy. You have bought and roasted the chicken--simple enough. Just put the carcass into water the next day and cook low and slow for several hours. These seem to me to be enjoyable and rewarding efforts.
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Buying in bulk has become a more attainable goal. Even our local supermarket has a bulk section. Besides, those jars lined up on the pantry shelf with rice, oats, nuts. beans, granola and the like in them are so aesthetically pleasing to my eye. So much more so than the garish packages. Vegetables and fruits have no packaging! And we should be eating more of those. And, while I am on that, don't bother with those plastic bags for those. Just take your cloth shopping bag into the store and put all fruit and vegetables into that. I just line my produce drawer in the fridge with a kitchen towel and the fresh foods go right in there sans plastic bags.
We cannot heal all the woes of the world. But, there are some simple ones we surely can have control over. And what comes into our homes and is consumed by us is one of them. Next time you go to the market, stop and think. This time just make just one choice differently of something not packaged. Next time two. And, before you know it, you will have significantly reduced the packaging that comes in and out of your home.
Lee lives on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i, where she owns and operates North Country Farms, an organic family farm and eco-tourist destination complete with tropical guest cottages. She believes her three grown children are her best part, but she also enjoys yoga, travel, and reading. You can read more about Lee and North Country Farms at http://www.northcountryfarms.com/, at the North Country Farms blog, or on Facebook.