We live in a globalized and consumer society. When I was a child, I remember that my family would get apples from a nearby orchard, potatoes would grow in our garden, and cherries would be given to us by a neighbor. And there was a dairy shop with fresh cheese and milk yet warm from the udder just a short walk from our house.
We’re a small town of just around 15,000 inhabitants, I reckon, so things don’t change as fast as in other parts of the world. But as far as I remember, the dairy shop doesn’t exist anymore, and fruits and greens grown in Almería are better picked up for cheaper from a local superstore. And what’s more, it’s all wrapped up in a ridiculous amount of unnecessary, plastic packaging.
Only a part of the wrapping plastic is actually recycled. Some bits and pieces even can’t be recycled. And so, plastic is polluting the mother Earth’s soil, oceans, and waterways. The exact soil where our food is grown (I might be too optimistic here), and the seas we all like to visit hedonistically, swim at, and consume its delicious fish.
While in fact, fruit and vegetables are washable and have their own compostable wrapping — the peel, if you want. I have often seen in more cosmopolitan cities and their express shops, a sliced apple, pineapple, melon, or seeds of a pomegranate in a small plastic box. Well, yes, it might be a bit more comfortable and easier to buy these rather than preparing your snack at home. We are all busy and rushing somewhere, maybe towards our goals and dreams. And, understandably, you won’t eat a whole melon all at once. But the apple? Can’t we just buy an apple and eat it as it is?
The truth is that sometimes not. Because those shops will usually only have a set of pre-packaged apples (and other smaller fruits too), you can’t buy just one. You have to buy four or more. And again, all that is wrapped in plastic.
Tom Hunt, an award-winning chef, climate change campaigner, and writer at The Guardian, mentioned in one of his articles that we, the eaters, had become disconnected from the food system. We often don’t know what we consume, not to speak of where our food comes from. A sort of a physical and psychological barrier appeared between us and what we eat.
I believe we should restore our relationship with food. How we treat the environment is how we treat ourselves. The saying couldn’t fit better to any other context. We don’t buy fresh, ripe, nutritious food anymore, but what’s cheaper or discounted, the quality of which can’t be seen through the notorious package.
So, what to do while regular shops are yet not ready for a change. Next time you go shopping, try to visit the greengrocer’s or a market. Seasonal and local food will usually cost the same or even a bit less than at a supermarket. If you’re in a hurry and the products are available both pre-packaged and loose, avoid the single-use plastics and purchase a reusable fruit bag.
And remember, even small acts can make a difference. Consumers influence businesses. And as we become more conscious about the food, so will they.