October 15, 2007

Food and Environmental Awareness

Since this is "Blog Action Day" I thought I'd talk a bit about food packaging.

It isn't unusual to see someone newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes lamenting that they can no longer eat the packaged foods they are used to. But this is a good thing, not a bad thing for many reasons, and one of them is that commercially packaged foods generate huge amounts of waste, especially those packed for "single servings". These "convenience" foods come in elaborate packages made out of plastic wrap, paper boxes, plastic interior packaging, and plastic bubbles, all of which end up in the trash.

When you buy ingredients in bulk and cook your own food, the amount of garbage goes way down. If you are fortunate enough to live where you can compost, it goes down even further, since much of your waste goes out to the pile and become rich garden dirt a few months later.

Kids' lunches are one area where these wasteful convenience foods have really taken over. Juice boxes instead of thermoses, cold cut/cheese/cracker bubble packs, individually wrapped cookies and candies, it goes on and on. None of this is necessary, and the foods you are feeding your kids when you use these kinds of individual servings are very high in carbs, additives, and preservatives many from China. Besides that, there is now some question about whether the plastics themselves may be leaching dangerous chemicals into your child's food.

I get annoyed when I see people making dramatic gestures "for the environment" which have mostly symbolic significance, like turning off lights for one day, while still driving gas guzzler vehicles and generating huge amounts of personal waste.

If you really care about the environment, why not see if you can cut back on the amount of packaging refuse you send to the local dump. Buy ingredients and learn how to cook some of the foods you like to eat. You'll help the environment, and you'll be eating much healthier food while you do it.


Andrea Harris said...

Good points, Jenny. Someone once said you shouldn't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. Surely she wouldn't see a "lunchable" as something edible.