Monday, December 21, 2009
The little horrors of shop
Much as I enjoy the Christmas season and love giving people presents - the process of acquiring said presents leaves much to be desired! What is it about shopping for Christmas - a season supposedly about human kindness and goodwill - that brings out the feral in people? From mithered monotonous shop assistants to grim sourpuss co-shoppers the process can be an ordeal. I am, however, happy to say that despite having to bend the rules of my pledge a bit, I think I've struck a fairly happy compromise between appeasing my conscience and actually being able to give people things they will appreciate (hopefully). The wrapping of said gifts within my self imposed constraints has been a little interesting - I found myself constructing a sort of old Christmas paper patchwork in most cases. Despite looking a little rustic I think the effect is actually kind of cool (see pic).
And onto another kind of shopping... Since vowing in this public forum to attempt to stick to locally produced, seasonal, free range, fairtrade, minimally packaged food, supermarket shopping has started to bring a bit of a sweat to my brow! So, to touch on the realities of sticking to each stipulation.....in most food categories its possible to find a 'within-state' produced option - it just takes a lot of close label reading. The exception seems to be tinned tomatoes - most brands seem to contain at least some imported ingredients. Sticking to the seasonal hasn't been too hard - this usually just means avoiding whatever is ridiculously overpriced. Finding free range eggs and chicken is also fairly easy - luckily I think they're pretty mainstream these days. Fairtrade is a little tricker and a bit of a bone of contention between myself and the B.H. - being a Pom, he likes his tea, and fairtrade tea is vastly more expensive than unfairtrade tea. We have got back into the habit of buying tea leaves rather than bags (to reduce packaging) and this reduces the cost somewhat. Likewise, fairtrade chocolate tastes fantastic but comes at a much higher premium than unfairtrade chocolate. I've taken to opting for the 70% cocoa solids variety, which I'm inclined to eat less of, so I figure it evens out in the end. And packaging? Its been quite valuable to be more mindful of this point....no more polystyrene trays of avocado wrapped in plastic (or the like). Buying things in bulk (eg a giant bottle of canola oil) has also helped reduce overall packaging consumption, and is cheaper too.
On the topic of canola, an extra factor has been brought into the ethical supermarket shopping mix....as of 2009 genetically modified canola has been used to make oil in Australia - and canola is used in a wide range of processed products including margarine, bread etc. Anyone else interested in boycotting genetically modified foods should check out the 'truefood guide' which identifies which products on our supermarket shelves may, or do not, contain genetically modified ingredients. See link below.
And on a final note, has anyone else found it hard to know what to do with those annoying thin little handle-less plastic bags provided for fruit and veg at the supermarket once you get them home? I try to just take my fruit and veg to the checkout loose when I can, but this can be impractical and result in (understandable) sour looks from the checkout person. A friend just gave me the best gift which provides a perfect solution to this problem - 'Fregie Sacks'. These are like the canvas shopping bag equivalent for your fruit and vegies - little mesh bags you take along to the supermarket with you for packaging your fruit and veg. Check out the link below.