The day began at 9:00 am as we loaded our family of five into the Toyota Prius, three car seats in the back. The 100 mile journey to reach our first destination is our norm to acquire our allergy friendly, natural foods.
Obtaining groceries for a family of five minus plastic packaging is not easy but with some thought is possible. Our favorite first stop is Dempsey Bakery in Little Rock, a gluten free bakery that specializes in allergy friendly foods. The owner Paula Dempsey is always willing to accommodate my plastic free requests filling my bags with delicious gluten, egg, dairy, soy and nut free products. I crave the death by chocolate layer cake. After the recent birth of our son, my husband had an entire cake delivered to my room from Dempsey’s Bakery.
By choosing to shop at local specialty stores we are able to obtain higher quality products from business owners who commonly are willing to accommodate our plastic free packaging requests.
In some cities, packaging free grocers are popping up such as In.gredients in Austin Texas. I love the business model of these establishments. It just makes sense. Packaging used to be designed to be reused for another purpose instead of immediately disposed of. Eliminating this source of modern waste should make the producer more profitable.
While we have farmers markets, bakeries, butchers, cheese shops, etc. that we can purchase directly from to minimize plastic packaging, we don’t yet enjoy a entirely bulk, packaging free grocer.
After a day of store hopping, our last stop to end the day is Whole Foods. By this time, 8:00 pm, my brain is exhausted. The synapses that recognize plastic packaging have shorted out. I asked the kids to be on the look out to remind me if I pick up any plastic packaging. We selected our produce. I brought my reusable containers to the butcher counter. We combed the aisles carefully with my four year old catching my hand putting something blacklisted in the cart. Then I realize that I want to purchase Applegate Farms lunch meat for our upcoming trip. I cannot have the deli counter slice and package without plastic due to cross contamination on the slicer. What to do? Pre-packaged portions? This is one convenience food We are not ready to give up yet. My husband began conversing with the man behind the counter, “Why not purchase the entire unopened package of meat and freeze it in portions?” The individually packaged portions would certainly amount to a lot more packaging. Should I do it? It seems obsessive to walk away with a huge stick of pepperoni – 3.5 pounds. But I did it. Applegate Pepperoni will be enjoyed in our house almost packaging free for some time. An added bonus, the clerk took off a lot of weight for a packaging discount. When it was all said and done, we saved 22% by thinking out of the box and eliminating packaging.
After our pepperoni triumph, I requested a couple smoothies to made fresh to drink on our late night travel home. When they were handed to me in two plastic cups complete with lids and straws I was slapped in the face with my lapse in memory. It was too late, I had forgotten. After all of my efforts throughout the day my tiredness got the better of me.