In our last blog, Waveney made the observation that, having recently moved to Auckland, we are looking for local organic wholefood stores because, “…organic shops usually have good bin sections and good packaging.” We take it all back!
This week I went forth to do some rubbish free shopping and went to two organic stores on the Shore (the only two I know about at the moment). I excitedly went into the first one, armed with our shopping bags, and fruit and vege bags, and proceeded to get a trolley expecting to do a big shop. After wandering about the store for half an hour I left dejected with a handful of items that easily fitted in one bag; eco-store cleaner, Kokako hot chocolate, some plums and oranges. But what really pushed me out of the shop was when I saw the eggplant wrapped in plastic.
I get that producers, distributors, and retailers, are keen for their stock to reach the consumer at point of sale in as best condition as possible, but I struggle with the concept that there aren’t other ways of creating packaging, or protection, to do so. I can’t imagine that the plastic is likely to protect it at all from bruising, so perhaps it is there to stop pollution and dust particles contacting with the fruit. However, the logic of having a pristine, organic eggplant, wrapped in a petro-chemical material escapes me. Of course I could be doing a great dis-service to whoever made the decision on the packaging, as it may in fact be made of some other material and can be home compostable. However, there was no labeling suggesting this and so in all likelihood would end up in landfill anyway.
Having had this experience, and still requiring an eggplant, I made my way to the other organic store. Again, armed with a trolley, I entered and initially was hopeful when confronted with an array of fruit and vegetables, unshackled from plastic packaging. It slowly dawned on me however that this selection was the conventional fruit and vegetables and when I made my way over to the organic produce isle there was the plastic, and there was the eggplant enshrined in plastic with the additional humiliation of having a personal styrofoam tray!
I believe that organic food has got to be better for us than food grown using non-organic compounds, however, when it is wrapped in plastic and styrofoam it becomes to difficult to reconcile for me. Although this sounds a bit dramatic, in this situation I feel like I’m forced to choose between my health and that of the wider environment. I ended up buying a conventional eggplant at a supermarket without any plastic or styrofoam anywhere near it.
Eggplant has now become my new standard bearer! I’d love to hear from anyone who can make suggestions as to where I might be able to buy an organic eggplant not wrapped in plastic. I’m thinking that farmer’s markets are the way to go, the only problem being that we are often away during the weekend.We’d also like to start showing examples of ridiculous packaging, so if you see any packaging you think is over the top, perhaps take a photo on your cellphone and email it to us at email@example.com and once we’ve got a few we’ll start a new page.