Posts Tagged ‘garbage’

For me, eating sustainably or locally or whatever you want to call it, seems to be one steps forward and two steps back. So, for example, on  Saturday morning we went to the Farmer’s Market in Inwood. Then when we were done, we went to Costco’s.

The case of the missing wheat berries
Last weekend, when I got home from the market, I unpacked only to find that I was missing the wheat berries and black beans I’d bought. I was pretty upset, and wracked my brains wondering where they could be, until I realized that I’d probably lost  them or left them behind. So, this week, I was super psyched because the girl form the CP Organics grains and flour stall remembered that I had been so busy talking about recipes that I’d forgotten to take my black beans and my wheat berries. We also picked up some Freekeh, roasted green spelt, apparently used in Middle Eastern cooking.

I was happy to learn that what the  containers that held the grains and beans were actually not plastic but were made out of corn and were compostable. In fact, I was told they would disintegrate in the sun. And, I was really happy to learn that Hudson Valley Farmhouse said they would take back the plastic containers after my kids demolish their tri-colored pasta.

“Great,” John said. “That’s more garbage we can hang on to.”

“No, that’s more garbage that we don’t  have to put in the landfill.”

When we were done with the Farmer’s Narket, we went to Costco’s.

I know that it seems odd and maybe even slightly deranged to hit Costco’s since I am obsessing about garbage, but since I have not given up the kids food  and I needed kids food — mostly grated cheese and bananas —  and cleaning supplies.(Costco’s has some Kirkland brands that claim to be environmentally friendly.)   My justification was that there has to be some value in buying in bulk — even if that bulk creates garbage, the amount of garbage has to be less.

Lots of samples, lots of garbage
When Costco’s first opened my parents used to joke that they went there partly for shopping and partly for lunch. Well, it was around noon, and as my belly rumbled, I heard my mother’s words of wisdom. We walked the aisles of the store and as we weighed the environmental impact of watermelon from South Carolina (which we bought) or  a 25 lb bag of Basmati rice from the Himalayas in the super cool burlap bag (which we didn’t), we nibbled.

By the time we had made it to the middle of the store, we had accumulated 3 sporks each. Then, when we got to the sample of the coleslaw with dried cranberries, I asked the sample lady.

“Would you mind not giving me a fork with my sample?”

She looked confused, but she was happy to comply — for both of us.

By the time we had reached the checkout, we had accumulated 6 flimsy white plastic, sporks, and close to 20 little paper cups. We were full. but we had made a whole lot of garbage. And true to Costco’s brand promise, it was a bargain — in fact it was free.

Just say no — to baked beans

We’d skipped the baked beans sample since it came in styrofoam.

“Tell your distributor that they missed a possible sale,” I said to the boy handing out the baked beans. “Because I didn’t taste their product because the sample was in styrofoam.”

The boy stared blankly back at me, wondering if he should even bother to pretend to care about what I was saying. Eventually he nodded, and I moved on.

Here we go again. The kid food issue.

I’ve built kids who are used to eating a certain way. They like that way. They have no interest in changing.   Last night for dinner, John and I had grilled tofo with asparagus pesto on a bed of quinoa. The kids had pasta.

I said, “I can’t believe I have kids who will only eat kid food. If I had fed you what we ate from the beginning, I wouldn’t be a short order cook.”

“You should have done that Mommy,” Blaise agreed.

“It’s not too late,” John said.

“Well then we just wouldn’t eat,” Zane said.

“You’d get hungry,” I pointed out.

“It’s illegal not to feed your kids,” he tried.

“I am going to feed you. I’m just going to feed you good, healthy food.”

Blaise looked anxiously at me trying to figure out if I was serious. But Zane was ignoring me. He  took a happy bite of his Hudson Valley Farmhouse pasta. It was made with beets, spinach and pastured eggs. It was even local.  It was our common ground food.

“Can I have some more?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said. And we changed the subject. At least for now.

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It was Earth Day,  and we’re working late. Both of us are in K’s office finishing up the last minute deadline. This weeks, what-do-you-mean-you-didn’t-know-it-was due tomorrow deadline.

“I’m hungry. Let’s order in.”

So I look up places to deliver on Menu Pages. I think about the garbage that any take out is going to bring in, but right now I don’t care. It’s almost 8. I’m hungry. And my justification is that I’m not going to do this a lot.

Justification. It’s a beautiful thing.

Because it’s so late, we decide not to order, but to walk across the street and see what’s open. There’s always Chipotle,the wheel-heeled cousin of MacDonald’s, which is also across the street. But I really want sushi, so we try the Japanese restaurant on 41st street first.

We are in luck. They are clearly closing up, but they haven’t shut the register. All the pre-made sushi in the case is 20% off. My nose for a bargain is excited. My instinct for self preservation feels a bit shaky. Nobody wants “fishy” sushi.  All that’s left is little packs. So not only am I stuck making garbage, but I’m stuck buying three or four cute little containers of questionably fresh fish.

As we are paying, I ask K,”Do you mind if we use one bag?”

“Sure,” she says. It’s one of my least weird requests and actions over the last few weeks.

“Just one bag,” I tell the cashier. She nods as if she understands. Then she grabs another plastic bag to put our miso soups which are each already wrapped and tied up in a clear plastic bag like goldfish from a pet store. She looks really confused.

“I’ll carry it,” I tell her. It’s as if the words don’t registers. She can’t figure out what I’m doing or why.

“I don’t want to make garbage,” I tell her.

She nods politely as if anything I’ve said has made sense.

We get back to the office and start to unwrap.

“Can you do me a favor?” I ask K. “When you uwrap your miso, can you untie the bag so I can save and re-use it.”

“Sure,” she says in her signature sing-song tone of voice.

I’m not sure if sushi is sustainable. I’m not sure if tuna or salmon or any of the fishes I’ve bought are on the endangered list. Last I heard, we were not supposed to eat wild salmon because it was being over fished. And I’m pretty sure the salmon sushi is not wild — it’s got that pale farmed salmon color. Of course farmed salmon are fed corn. I had stopped eating it a few years ago because the environmental impact fish farming has on the sea. Apparently it really messes with the eco system. But honestly, as I’m choosing my dinner, I don’t even remember that I know anything about salmon being an issue. It doesn’t cross my mind, until I sit down tonight to write about it.

In the  moment, I just want sushi.  So we get back to the office and we sit down to eat, and it’s pretty delicious.  After we’re done, K says, “Are you going to save all these little containers?”

I nod yes, I collect them all — hers and mine — and bring them to the sink in the kitchen.

They wash out very easily and once clean they fit together neatly in a nice clean stack. The tiny silver soy sauce tray is adorable. They can easily be re-used. And, now that I’ve committed to not buy more plastic wrap or ziploc bags, I am sure they will come in handy. What we don’t use for containers, I am sure the kids can use for arts and crafts projects.

Still it is not a small bag. I wonder what I would do if I couldn’t get rid of these bits and bobs of plastic. I have a flash of my apartment, which is pretty cluttered as it is, cram packed with empty containers, shiny soy sauce trays, and pretty red chopstick wrappers. And I think, maybe if I am stuffed to the gills with garbage, I’ll chose not to make more more often.

One can only hope.

Links for more info on what kind of salmon we should eat:

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Watch a disturbing video about the environmental impact of farmed salmon:

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