Saturday, April 25, 2009

Packaged Foods

Unfortunately, (almost) everyone at one time or another, relies on packaged food, whether the package is labeled Hostess or comes from a farmers' market. As a general rule, however, the more sustainable the packaging, the better the food.

At one end of the packaging spectrum is vegetables from your garden. This produce, you should not be surprised to learn, does not come in a package. Perfect!

At the other end are these "all-natural" chocolate chip cookies I once bought at the supermarket. The package you see is a cardboard box, but once you open it, you see non-recyclable transparent plastic wrap around the cookies in a plastic tray. And the kicker? Between each individual cookie lay a round piece of wax paper.

I've established a hierarchy of packaging based on energy and resource intesnsiveness, presence of chemicals, ability to biodegrade, and ability to be reused. The list starts from best to worst.

  1. No packaging. Seriously. Just avoid it if you can.
  2. Reusable bottles. Claravale Farms uses glass bottles for milk that the buyer brings back to where the milk was bought. The farm washes the bottle and reuses it. Also, glass does not leach.
  3. 100% post-consumer recycled paper packaging. Why is this so high on the list? Because it is both recycled and compostable. You can put in the garden!
  4. Recyclable aluminum and glass. These materials can be recycled over and over again, and don't leach.
  5. Recyclable plastic. I'm reluctant to even mention plastic. It is not sustainable, sometimes toxic, limitedly recyclable at best, and oftentimes not recycled at all. Avoid bringing plastic into your home, really.
  6. Non-recyclable plastics. These are about as pleasant as mercury in the arm or Chuck Norris in a thong. My only advice is to avoid it.
  7. Packaging involving multiple layers of non-recyclable plastics. I would relate this to watching multiple Chuck Norris's dressed in thongs kill plane crash survivors. Perhaps that was graphic, but it was necessary.
Remember: bring your own bags to the farmers' market, avoid plastics, reduce/reuse/recycle, and compost!


The Veggie Queen said...

Good post on packaging here. I just knew from meeting your Dad that you and I are on the same wave length.

It's good to know that some young people are interested in eating well. Hopefully you looked at my post about sitting at the airport and what I had to eat in late March or early April.

Best to email me at

Your Dad says that you ought to be studying for your finals.

(Cool button there suscribe by email. And how do you put the comment as button below? You obviously know much more about blogs than I do. Hopefully I know more about vegetables.)

Thanks for the contact.

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