Friday, March 18, 2011

Convenience [sic] and plastic part II

Several days ago ("Rethinking convenience and ease"), I wrote about the exponential increase in the amount of plastic packaging coming into our homes associated with food:
The driving force behind this obsession with packaging seems to be a particular notion of convenience, perhaps seconded by social atomization and the ability to derive greater profit per unit from individual packages.
It just so happens that two comments on the "Sugar and St. Augustine" post at Slow Love Life provided proof of my atomization/greater profit argument yesterday.  Grace reported from the U.K. that Del Monte now sells plastic-packaged bananas, and the inimitable David Terry (from the Triangle area, NC) followed up with a doozy of an anecdote (I quote him here, with his permission):
Come shopping with me someday soon at the local Food Lion, where I recently saw an attractively arranged bin of individually-plastic-shrink-wrapped, prettily labelled, PLAIN OLD BAKING POTATOES. 

They were "MICROWAVE READY!" potatoes. Apparently, all one has to do is to spend time chipping a few carefully manicured fingernails while laboriously removing the plastic. then?... toss the plastic where ever you choose, prick the potato several times with a fork, set it in a saucer slightly filled with water, and microwave the thing (or however many one would need to feed an "on the go!" family with an "active lifestyle".
One aisle away (and towards the center of the store, of course) is what's hereabouts referred to as the "Hispanic Section." There, I was finally able to find a bin of...plain old, dismayingly NOT-individually-plasti-shrinkwrapped baking potatoes that I could take home and cook without instructions?????
Apparently, all of our recent Mexican ladies (the Hispanic population hereabouts has doubled in ten years) are too unsophisticated to realize how much more fun and exciting it is to spend time unwrapping each potato before you cook it. 
Environmental concerns quite aside?...I saw those potatoes and thought "That really is just so.... DUMB."   The plasti-wrap potatoes were something over a dollar apiece.

I love it when I'm right, but in this case I'd gladly forego the vindication.  

Apparently concern about plastics is in the air, because here's more fodder for my argument: Susan Freinkel's Op-Ed piece in the New York Times today contends that the problem with plastic is not the plastic itself but its multitude of single-use applications (straws, bags, and yes, packaging). I quite agree: something that takes thousands of years to decay has no business being touted as "disposable". 

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