Like most people, we used to buy our fruit and vegetables at the supermarket. For years we were Tesco shoppers and then we defected to Aldi, because well, better value and all that. But unpacking a large shop always resulted in a huge pile of single-use plastic. We started to ask ourselves simple questions. Why does a cucumber need to be encased in plastic? Why are apples and pears always housed in a non-recyclable bag? The supermarkets tell us it’s to protect the produce but a turnip or a butternut squash really doesn’t need any protection other than what nature has already provided. We started to seek out those few items that weren’t bagged in this way and left the other produce on the shelf.
By visiting various supermarkets, we were able to get some of the things we needed but it was still far from a perfect solution.Then we discovered Dig In (in Bruntsfield), a community greengrocer’s run by volunteers, where most of the fruit and veg is available loose. Yes, the produce is a little more expensive than Aldi or Lidl, but we are investing in a local business and the quality is very good. Susan’s mum made us some nifty drawstring net bags, which made picking up tomatoes and mushrooms a breeze.
Just lately we’ve started to notice that supermarkets are grudgingly making inroads into providing unwrapped fruit and veg, though the plastic-wrapped items still vastly outnumber the loose kind. The answer seems to be that, if we refuse to buy plastic-wrapped groceries, eventually the resulting loss of income will prompt the supermarkets to mend their ways.
There are of course, some items that we still struggle to find loose. We’re big fans of rocket, for instance, but I’ve never seen it not in a bag – and we don’t have a garden, so we can’t grow our own.
If anybody has any suggestions as to how we might acquire unwrapped salad leaves, please let us know!