Small Successes- Low Waste Food Shopping
My dream is to be able to food shop completely plastic free. To have a farmers market down the block with my favorite fruits and veggies always “in season”. To have the time and skills to bake my own bread and make my own sauces. Heck, I‘d take a whole farm where I could give other people all of their favorite foods fresh from my land! Let’s be honest, I’m not destined for that. I’m a city girl through and through.
Being a city girl doesn’t mean that I can‘t desire the luxury of having access to food fresh from a farm or garden. One of my least favorite parts of New York is the lack of wilderness! I wish it was easier to food shop and create less waste here. To be honest, It’s very hard. That’s why my food shop this week was particularly exciting.
I went to a health foods store that was a little further away. I had been scared to go since it is not a space I am familiar with. I couldn’t run into the store, grab what I need, and leave. I had to go in and study the place. Find where they keep everything. Find the things I specifically wanted. All while trying to stay a safe 6 feet away from everyone there.
I was so pleased to find that they had a ton of produce NOT wrapped in plastic. For the first time in my life, I was able to buy Brussels Sprouts in my own bag! I took the ones I wanted out of a bowl and put them into my mesh produce bag. They also had a bulk food section. Ohhhhh the bulk food section. My new favorite place!
Unfortunately, the bulk section of the store is not “self serve” at the moment. In order to reduce the amount of people touching the products, a worker has to jar or bag the food for you. I was lucky enough to be helped by a worker who offered to explain to me how everything would normally work if I was serving myself. He showed me where I could get stickers to label the weight of my jars before filling them and how to write the weight in a way that would make my check out move smoothly.
We talked for a bit while he was filling my jars. We talked about how less people have been bringing their own jars out of fear of a worker touching them. We talked about how sad we were that so many people are choosing plastic options over reusable ones right now. He then said my favorite quote of the day, “We gotta fix this f*cking place. We’re ruining our planet.” I laughed after he said this, mainly because I had never had a grocery store worker curse at me before! But I completely agreed with him. We do need to fix this place. We need to care about our future and take action.
So today, I celebrated the food I was able to buy without plastic. Was my entire food shop plastic-free? No. But I‘m confidant that I can get it down more. I think a realistic goal for me, provided where I am and what I have access to, is to have a 25% plastic food shop. For some people, this probably seems like a lot of plastic still. I envy those people. I envy the fact that their bodies crave food that they have access to in plastic-free ways. I envy the fact that they have those options. Maybe one day I will, too! For now, I’ll take 25%.