The Future of Grocery Shopping

Lifestyle | | February 24, 2010 at 10:58 am
Photo by turtlemom4bacon.

Photo by turtlemom4bacon.

Last month while visiting Rochester I popped into the local market my parents have shopped at my entire life. Only having purchased 3 items, but realizing I’d forgotten my re-usable shopping bag, I opted to go bag-less. Before I could get the words, “no bag thank you,” out of my mouth, the young man behind the counter had begun dropping my stuff in a plastic bag. I quickly said, “oh no thanks, only 3 things, no need for a bag, save it for the next person.” To my astonishment he pulled my items out, handed them over like a robot, and threw the un-used bag into his garbage!

Can’t wait until the chap behind the counter cheerfully asks, “hey, how are ya?” instead of, “paper or plastic?” When I first moved to California almost a decade ago I was amazed at how much organic produce was readily available. I was continually baffled at the plastic mess it was packaged in though!

I’ve heard a lot of folks remark, “oh, it’s paper it’ll degrade” or “what’s a little piece of plastic actually gonna do if it just stays in a dump?” I regularly pipe up with answers to those ludicrous questions.

Reaching Beyond Paper or Plastic

While reading an issue of Dwell I lit up when I saw an article titled The Future of Groceries. It reviewed three brilliantly simple ways to enhance our entire method of procuring and storing the foods we love. Summing it up, creative concept idea machine, Marti Guixe says, “food design, if properly done, should eliminate superfluous packaging.” Complimenting this sentiment is Food Probe’s Home Farming Unit, a biosphere containing live seafood with the ability to grow vegetables. Imagine how wonderful it will be to maintain just what you need, excess free!

Shopping Conscientiously

Until these farming units hit our homes, consider every action you put forward with what I call whole conscious thinking:

  • Buying organic? Great job! Now consider, am I purchasing my food from a sustainable source? Go online or ask neighbors where the local farmer’s markets are located. Many farms now offer a twice monthly service farmer’s box chock full of the season’s best.
  • The next time you’re shopping compliment your grocer on what you see them doing best. Politely suggest they offer re-usable shopping supplies or they leave produce un-wrapped free of plastic packaging.
  • Don’t forget to get an update from your waste management company of the items you may recycle each week with your other trash. At the end of the week our recycling bins are absolutely over-flowing. Almost all materials you consider garbage can and should be recycled. If your company doesn’t take certain items, find an alternative resource for your garbage. We save any plastic bags that might come into the house via guests to be later taken down the street, where our local market will recycle them for the public.

Reusable Shopping Totes

Just about every grocer now offers (at a small cost) reusable totes for your continued convenience. If you’re like me, you’ll want to support organizations that give back to the environment by donating proceeds. Try a couple of my sturdy faves:

  • Envirosax Can fit the equivalent of 3 full plastic bags or about 2 full paper sacks
  • ACME A ine of re- and up-cycled shopping totes. Great for bicycle baskets
  • Etsy often features bags made by independent designers in their own homes, many of whom donate a certain amount of profits to various charities

Remember to wash that reusable shopper every couple of times you bring it home. Unwashed, bacteria may have a chance to thrive in your tote. Kind of defeats the purpose if your shopper turns into a bacterial breeding ground. Give your totes a preshopping spruce by spraying a few shots of Clean Well’s thyme and citrus oil sanitizer and shake to dry.

ChristineChristine M. Dionese L.Ac. specializes in integrative medicine, medical journalism and was the VP of marketing at WellWire LLC. Visit her wellness and lifestyle blog, Reaching Beyond Now.

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1 Comment

  1. pl says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the reference to the packaging for organic products. I work at a consumer electronics company and we’ve put a great effort into redesigning our packaging in the last 5 years. Our boxes are more efficient than ever. Not only do we save on the materials and shipping costs but they’re greener.
    I live in an area deprived of a local Whole Foods or Trader Joes. The first time I went there I could believe the superfluous packaging on the items. It seemed that all the good the manufacturers were trying to do by offering “all-natural”, “organic”, “fair-trade”, etc.. was absolutely negated by the packaging they employed!