I really love doing the fruit and vegetable shopping at the market on a Sunday. I’m not 100% sure if it’s cheaper, but I do know the food lasts longer. It isn’t all grown locally, though we do go to a few different stalls to pick up local stuff when possible. They are small businesses, though, and that makes me happier than buying from the big two. Australia’s supermarket duopoly troubles me greatly. Avoiding these two chain stores is one of our ‘side’ projects this year. So far the results have been dubious, but we have not bought fruit and vege from the supermarkets for at least the last 8 months.
Inspired by the No Impact Man (I should probably try and remember his actual name if I’m going to mention him so often) we thought about how we can reduce our waste at the market. We already take reusable bags, but we do collect things like seconds fruit and eggs which come in packaging. Today we decided we were going to work on reducing the packaging. We bought 2 kilos of apricots and 2 kilos of nectarines (both seconds, which makes me really happy) and had them taken out of their boxes and poured into our reusable bags. I figure it’s better for the vendor (they get to keep and re-use their containers) and also for us, as it reduces our recycling. The seller was bemused but didn’t quite understand why we didn’t want the boxes. We then returned our egg carton to the egg seller. He was actually quite stoked. He gave us the eggs for $1 less. I’m pretty sure he did that last week, too, so I’m not going to claim some kind of karma here.
We also have the option of buying $1 bags of random fruit and vege from the stall we buy the bulk of our stuff from. We almost always grab a bag of really ripe pears (usually 2 – 3kg) because pears are one of Little Fearse’s favourite snacks. This week we got a huge bag of bananas, a bulk lot of onions and a punnet of strawberries (most of which are fine). The bananas are still firm, the skins are just damaged.
I guess we’re benefiting from the fact that people care about what their fruit and vege looks like. It seems insane to me, but I did grow up on a property with a large orchard. We’d eat fruit with scars, fruit that grew in strange shapes, fruit with holes in it from the birds… If it vaguely resembled fruit, we ate it.
Really, to become a sustainable society, we have to stop caring about that kind of thing. I mean, this is the smallest of first steps that we can take. Fresh food is so valuable. When did we become a society that would happily eat a McDonald’s thick shake (who knows what they put in that?!) but not a slightly brown banana?
Anyway, I’m looking forward to using some of the “on special” vege I bought to make my own vegetable stock. I use so much of it, and it seems silly to keep buying it from the supermarket. Yay for cheap onions.
Well, we didn’t buy a fat pig. Maybe next time.