week 3: limiting packaging


Motivation for moving forward & living. And vegetables can easily be purchased without packaging!

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from friends about our zero-waste diet. How do we get enough to eat, if we’re not buying packaged food? What will we do in winter, when we try to eat exclusively from the winter farmers’ market? How will we cook some of our favorite dishes that involve tricky ingredients, like coconut milk? What do you do at restaurants or when people invite you to dinner? When your with family?

It’s been interesting so far, and we haven’t yet faced a lot of these questions. This week, we’re clearing out the pantry–the last of our canned tomatoes (from the store), some of our packaged pasta, coconut milk, the remaining canned beans. There will be some conveniences going out the window rather quickly.

My favorite part of the week is Saturday morning–heading to the farmers’ market, walking around with Joe, then coming home & immediately putting some food to work. This week, it was roasting squash for squash-cinnamon rolls that need made, making pesto, mixing up some salsa, drying tomatoes, making tomato paste, preparing pasta salad for this week’s lunches… and washing a lot of produce.

While I love dedicating my Saturdays to food preparation, there are some things that I just run out of time for. We cannot feasibly knead & bake & store all the kinds of bread we’d like to have. I can’t make granola and crackers and granola bars–for now, we’re eating smoothies or oatmeal & snacking on nuts. Sure, there are things we love that we’re doing without. It’s taking time to figure out what can be made & what just isn’t worth the effort. But we’re also starting to rely on healthier, simpler snacks & meals.

We made some beautiful food this week & generated some lovely compost materials… and then there was the Weekly Epic Failure. Okay, there were two.

Epic Failure 1

Joe went to the store to get pectin. I wanted to preserve the millions of peppers we’ve received by turning them into pepper jelly. They didn’t have pectin. So, he grabbed chocolate soy milk, cream cheese & a package of bacon. (It was local bacon; I’ll give him that.) He made a tray of jalapeno poppers for lunch. As in, that was all he ate for lunch. A tray of jalapeno poppers.

Epic Failure 2

Maggots. Turns out, if you forget to dump your compost bin for over a week, it gets chock full o’ maggots. Compost, all around, was just a big failure this week. The bin was full, so I started a second bag as a hold-over. Then the kitchen got filled with fruit gnats, so I caved & put the compost in the trash (since I didn’t have time to get to the garden for another day). Then I finally went to dump the compost bin into the larger pile of compost at the community garden.

It. was. full. of. maggots. I sloshed the broken-down food onto the compost pile & immediately gagged. (And that’s putting it nicely. I may or may not have added some already broken down food I’d eaten earlier that day into the compost bin.) Then I cried a little.

Mark offered some advice: Dump the kitchen compost bin a lot. If you can’t, your food turns into liquid nitrogen. It needs to be balanced out with some carbon-rich materials–cardboard, newspaper, any small bit of your paper recycling. Try layering some of this material into your compost each time you add food scraps, to save yourself from the maggots.

Next week, we’ll try to do better. Continuing to clear out the pantry & rely on our bulk supplies while we gather new recipes that won’t require us to bring home packaging. I’ll also be looking at U.S. food habits–our food spending vs. food consumption compared to the rest of the world. Minds will be blown. Your mind will also be blown by the horrible job we did saving money this week & by some of the awesome food we cooked up, which I’ll share Friday (including my recipe for ratatouille).

The Real Question

We’re really struggling. It’s like every time I tell myself I’ll work out: I don’t. Then I go to bed & tell myself I’ll start working out tomorrow morning. Then I sleep through my alarm & tell myself I’ll start the next day. It is the next day. We need to do better. What gets you motivated to get going on goals & stay on target?


About meganbetz

human geography PhD Student at Indiana University; wife, reader, writer, baker, gardener
This entry was posted in Personal Project. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to week 3: limiting packaging

  1. Pingback: week 3: limiting packaging | francofile

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