Apparently the things that come across the screen often rumble around in my brain, waiting for just the right moment to come together. This morning was such a moment. For some reason, in the middle of making a pot of coffee, the thought of the new "pods" for laundry and dishwasher popped up, and the idea that the heavy plastic bottles the detergent came in (and the added water content to make the bottles even bigger) would soon be a thing of the past.
Next thought was of the bags that hold the pods, followed by a vague idea of shops where you could take your own containers to scoop them from bins...
And that led me to start thinking about a headline of an article I saw earlier in the week, stating that the first supermarket had opened as recently as 1946.
Think about that! Less than 70 years ago, we ate real food.
That (of course) took me down memory lane to my childhood, of milk men, bakery deliveries, the Jewel Tea man, and locals might remember, the Charles Chips man. There were other sales people who came calling too - Fuller Brush, encyclopedia salesmen, and on and on. I'm old enough to remember butcher shops, bakeries, the fish market, and the store that only sold fruit. I can remember wrapping the day's trash in sturdy paper before putting it into the trash barrel because there was no such thing as a plastic garbage bag. There really was very little trash, especially if there was a compost pile. Groceries came home in brown paper bags that stood up all by themselves.
A trip to the grocery store with these things swirling in my head the other day, had me looking at all the packaging and marketing that we've come to accept and expect, all of these changes mostly happening within my lifetime. All the convenient single-servings that are then packaged again in a larger container so that we don't have to take out a spoon and portion it out ourselves. All the single-use, disposable, plastic, plastic, plastic everything, everywhere.
And I had forgotten.
You might wonder how I can continue to print a magazine while pondering these things, and I admit to sometimes feeling guilt about that. At least paper is a somewhat renewable, compostable item - even if our readers didn't tell us that they keep every single issue they ever get, forever. Since the computer has become so much a part of our every day life, printing has fallen off dramatically, with many printing companies going under as magazines and newspapers go on-line (or die). Our own customer base, when given the choice, chooses paper 20-1 over the virtual magazine, so that's what we do.
But back to the grocery store...
As our food prices soar and our incomes decrease, will we start to realize how much we're paying for those convenient little pre-measured portions? Will we opt for the pot of coffee over a K-cup, choose the large bag of rice over the boil-in bags? Might we decide to use a dusting cloth instead of a disposable piece of fluff? Make our own soups instead of canned? Buy a quart of applesauce and use a bowl and spoon? Perhaps we might just be able to separate a slice of cheese on our own? Could this be the time when we start to throw away the throw-aways that destroy the environment and deplete our wallets?
Something's got to give. If there is any silver lining to the currently ridiculous state of economics in the country, wouldn't it be great if we suddenly realized what we were doing - and stopped?