Posted by: David McKay | May 11, 2010

Can’t see the food for the plastic

Here’s my life in a nutshell:  Single.  I work in a restaurant kitchen three nights a week.  I have recently been contemplating becoming a wino to eliminate the plastic involved with shopping for food.  It is tough shopping for one on a part-time basis.

I love cheese.  Why does cheese come wrapped in a plastic that is so poorly made that once it is torn it is ruined forever?  How come I cannot just reseal the plastic to keep the cheese I do not eat fresh?  Does Cabot Cheese believe that once an 8 ounce block of cheese is removed from its plastic it will be immediately consumed?  Once opened, I am supposed to wrap the remainder of the uneaten cheese in a new piece of plastic?  Absurd.

Absurd was my attempt to shop for food tonight at the grocery store in South Barre.  Bananas.  Avocados.  So far so good.  Bread?  No way can I buy bread in this store that does not have plastic involved with its packaging.  Shit.  I really want a grilled cheese sandwich.  I get some bread.  At least the bread is made locally.  Pros and cons are being weighed with each decision.  There will definitely be a bottle of wine involved.  Let’s see. . . how about pasta?  Every box of pasta has a little plastic window in the side of it.  Do they think I don’t know what a piece of spaghetti looks like?  Seriously?  Elbow macaroni?  Hmm. . . I don’t know — what does it look like?  Oh, wait — it looks like an elbow?  Oh, then that’s okay, let’s get that.  I’m afraid of the unknown, but the pasta making people that supply major grocery chains have made my world safe, and that lets me know that I can turn off my brain.

Where’s the wine?

The entire store was filled with plastic.

Absurd.  I have to say it.  Now that I have started looking at how we live in this country — it does not matter which part: Alaska, Vermont, North Carolina, Ohio, everywhere — I can honestly say that our lifestyle is completely absurd.  We have such potential to do great things, and we are wasting the opportunity for the sake of convenience, for the sake of ignorance, for the sake of who the fuck cares?  Are we so hell bent on our own destruction?

We can’t see the forest for the trees.  Me?  I can’t see the food for the plastic.

I care.  I am not ignorant.  I have said it before and I will say it again: responsibility is not convenient — it’s necessary.



  1. Dave,
    You cracked me up about the pasta windows! LOL! It is so true!
    Your sense of humor reminds me of my brother!
    Thanks for bringing a smile to my face again and being a fellow companion on this journey!
    I’m thrilled to hear that you are on your way to becoming a teacher….we need more like you to feed little minds (with plastic-free food for thought)!
    All the best to you!
    🙂 Kate

  2. I think that it is good that you are thinking about all these things; most people don’t. And I think it is good that you putting your thoughts out there for everyone to read. I know it has made me think more about the way I shop…. thank you

  3. This all speaks to why the plastic issue needs to be addressed on a systems level, not by the individual consumer. Consider, will you, the way I grocery shop? 4 kids, me, one cat. That’s a lot of groceries, and there is just no avoiding all the plastic. But so much of it is simply a packaging decision at the corporate level.

    I’m thinking about that guy at the bar..Dan? Who so correctly pointed out that we can’t fix stupid. We can’t but we can provide better choices. For stupid and for Dan. I had to go into Walmart today (something I try to avoid at all costs, but today I couldn’t), and as I was checking out, looking at their big spinning racks of plastic bags, I was thinking, what if those were all nylon re-useable bags? And they cost a dollar each? And at the co-op? What if instead of giving me a 5 cent credit for each bag I bring, they provided re-useable bags for a deposit of $2.50 each (assuming here that the co-op bags are of better quality than the wal-mart ones!), and so you pay for them the first time, but then, as long as you bring them back, you get your deposit credited to your bill?

    I don’t know what to do about cheese though. That one is a mystery. Start eating only hard cheeses with thick rinds that don’t need to be wrapped at all?

  4. I learnt how to make my own bread from a bug (starter) that has been passed down several generations in my Mum’s family. It is a really easy recipe similar to sour dough bread as long as you keep the bug going.

    sliced bread is over rated anyway. 😛

    as for Pasta, check out your local bulk bin store (if any). I found one that sells penne and coloured spiral pasta in its bulk section and has paper bags instead of plastic.

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