What Drives You Crazy?

Well, packaging is high on my list.

And that hard-formed plastic that encapsulates everything from toothbrushes to pliers is a health hazard. I’ve heard that hospitals have a name for hard plastic injuries, but I don’t know what it’s called.

Scissors are now the most important tool in my kitchen, and all of mine are dull, so I’m hacking my way into packaging. Just serving a meal of cheese, salami, crackers, and olives can—with the ripping, cutting, unwrapping, opening—takes more time than cooking steak and veggies. And I was trying to have an easy meal.

In 1995 two friends and I visited Germany and I came home championing the cause of no grocery bags. Now Eugene has established a no bag policy, but they do sell paper bags for 5 cents, but where we live, right outside Eugene, the shops use plastic bags, so I’m spoiled again.

I debated the paper vs plastic bags for a time, until my grandson said, “Throw that paper bag on the ground and it will be gone in a few days. That plastic bag will hang around for eons.” 

Folks who found a dead whale washed up on the beach with 40 kg of plastic in his belly convinced me.

Before I sound too high and mighty, I am the worst for remembering to take my reusable bags into the grocery store or other shops in Eugene, so I spend a lot of 5 cents.

Europe is way ahead of us. Even back in 1995, when we went into a German grocery, we found that they charged 25 cents to use a shopping cart, but had no bags. You placed your items in the cart. You weighed the produce, printed a price sticker and plastered it to your lettuce, apples or such. You checked out, reloaded everything into the cart and wheeled it out to your car. If you had the foresight to put a box in the car, you put your groceries in it, and when you get home you carried the box into the house. Simple. 

If you walked to the store, you carried a bag.

I think Europeans are more trusting than Americans so they don’t have to tie everything up because they are afraid someone is going to steal it, contaminate it, or do some dire something. 

I got a kick out of hearing that the Euro Rail used an honor system. However, if on a random check, a person was found with no ticket, they put that person off the train at that place—wherever it was. How about that to keep people honest?

Bathrooms in Germany had on-demand water heaters in the Zimmer Free homes. where we spent our nights. (Zimmer Free means, “Room available.” When you see such a sign, you can go up to the door and ask if they have a room. We followed Rick Steves’ travel guide for good places to stay, and to our surprise, we ran into Rick at a café where he sat upgrading his book. And most every place had goose-down comforters. It spoiled me and I’ve slept under one ever since.

Oh, and their pretzels, about a foot across, chewy on the bottom twist, crispy on the top curve, and sprinkled with coarse salt were spectacular. I believe I had one daily. Now wheat flour has been demonized, but not then. 

What set me off on this topic was an article I found online about shops in the UK that have minimal packaging and no plastic. 

They use bins to hold their merchandise and there are many glass containers. They have pumps for filling their customer’s own bottles with liquids such as shampoo, and soaps. Their shops are quite upscale and beautiful, and even people who hate shopping love to go there.

According to Steven Moss, who wrote the article, walking into one shop named Natural Weigh, smelled heavenly. Natural Weigh is a zero-waste shop that opened a year ago in Crickhowell, Mid-Wales, and is part of a quiet revolution. 

Over the past two years, well over 100 of these stores have sprung up across the UK. Natural Weigh doesn’t sell produce because they don’t want to interfere with the local markets. 

Regarding produce: Have you ever been to an open air market such as they have in Mexico? You walk through aisles of fruits and vegetables, with various items hanging overhead, and the sight, colors, and fragrances are a feast before you buy anything.

I suppose Farmers Markets and Saturday Markets in the US serve that purpose. They are second to harvesting your own produce. 

When I was a kid, we wrapped our sandwiches in waxed paper, and it worked. The sandwich was fresh come lunchtime. It might have a crater in the middle though, from the apple packed beside it.

I use plastic wrap, and plastic bags, I’m no saint, why, though, I wonder, must I search to find bags without a Ziploc? Oh, that reminds me, I have a perfect solution to oil spills, sinking ships, and capturing an ice burg for fresh water. We just need a company that can make a zip-lock bag huge enough so we can slip a ship or an iceberg inside, or pull it around an oil slick.  One more thing needed though–a device to hold the bag open for filling.

Consumers can reduce the use of plastic, but it is minuscule compared to what companies could do.  Yes, use plastic for cars Televisions, refrigerators, etc. etc, but if engineers can build the bay bridge across from San Francisco to Oakland to withstand the strongest earthquake they can think of, some genius could come up with a product we can use in place of plastic garbage bags, kitchen bags, plastic wrap, grocery bags, and those absolutely ridiculous rings that hold a six-pack of just about anything that comes in bottles or cans. 

We’re tired of needing a hacksaw to get newly purchased products out of their packaging. And think about those cups that look like plastic, but are made from corn. Hey, corn has been demonized too, let’s use it to wrap our food. 

What? Both wheat and corn are demonized? 

Wheat and corn built civilizations. I don’t believe it is the wheat and corn specifically— without maze where would South America be?  And we love our corn chips and corn on the cob. And popcorn. I used to say that if I was stranded on a desert island, I would want popcorn along.

I don’t believe it is the grains that are causing the trouble,  I think it is what has been done to the wheat and corn.

With the extensive use of genetic engineering and insecticides, what can we trust? I’ve heard that they spray Roundup on wheat.   No wonder people have problems. 

Why do we stand for all the dinking with our food, so that they can be shipped without damage, and grown in abundance, prettier, and bigger, but without the taste of a lovely vine-ripened fruit? And I wonder if those GMO dinked foods are nutritious.

So we start eliminating foods from our diets because they don’t settle well with us. 

Well duh.

I’m not going to show you pictures of beautiful sea creatures strangled by plastic, it will spoil your entire day.

You know about it. What can we do about it?

Indigenous peoples revered the earth, and they knew to walk gently on her back.  They knew that respecting all the forces of nature, as well as all the living things was essential in maintaining harmony on the planet.  Corn was a precious gift, a plant that would not grow without the aid of a human hand.  Giving that ear of corn to a newborn child was a symbol of nurturing; it would provide sustenance in her life. 

Walking gently applies to everything. Sunday we had such an experience on my Daughter and son-in-law’s gorgeous 100-acre wood.

Pics taken last Sunday May 19, 2019

Muffins baked by Grandson, the one walking with Sweetpea. Upper right is poison oak, it’s healthy too. The white flower is wild strawberry. Upper left is the lovely forest floor.

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