My New Food Challenge
I’ve instituted a new challenge to myself whenever I go grocery shopping, which is to buy only single, unprocessed ingredients with as little packaging as possible.
This not only forces me to shop healthier, but also to cook more (i.e., to do all the processing myself), not to mention reduce waste in the form of unnecessary packaging.
In some cases it’s not possible — or at least not practical — for me to entirely uphold this endeavor, as in the example of the sunflower butter I bought last night. I don’t have the tools to process sunflower seeds into butter, nor am I able to transport it to my apartment without the plastic jar that it comes in (though admittedly, I’m sure there are some conscientious grocery stores out there that would allow you to bring your own jar to fill). Still, at least when I read the ingredients on the label, it just said “sunflower butter”. So I can check off the ‘single ingredient’ box.
On the other hand, I picked up a variety of fruits and vegetables and threw them directly into my basket without even bothering to first place them into those thin plastic produce bags since I didn’t see the point. All boxes checked. That felt good.
When I purchased two avocados for the purpose of making homemade guacamole, I contemplated how there had been occasions in the past — albeit rare — when I had bought prepackaged “guacamole”. When you consider just how unforgivingly perishable avocados are, the idea of some unchanging mass sitting in the aisle for god-knows-how-long and masquerading as food is just gross. Not to mention that each avocado I bought was about $3.50*…so whatever’s in that prepackaged guacamole that doesn’t cost much more can’t be even close to real. Perhaps most importantly, unlike the fresh guac I later made at home, it’s not even delicious.
So really the only point to buying something like that is to save time and effort in making something tasty and nutritious. Which is kind of like letting an oncoming bus run you over to save yourself the time and effort of jumping out of its way. Except, time and effort has still been expended on that lifeless ‘food’ product — in the form of the work spent in earning the money to buy it.
In the end, when I arrived home and unbagged all of my purchases and laid them out on my kitchen counter, I felt a strange swelling of pride and was almost compelled to take a photo of my “catch”. Kind of in the same way that people photograph and post pictures of their brunch. Except in my case it was just a table full of ingredients — the promise of something. But at least it was something that would be created by me.
*Morton Williams, my local grocery store, is extremely pricey…but also, conveniently, a block away.