Forcibly divorced

Apricot, Fruit, Power

I have a complaint. It is Bank Holiday here, so, in need of provisions and with a sudden desire for apricots, I was obliged to go to the supermarket. I don’t do it often. It depresses me. But that isn’t the complaint…

I really didn’t need much; it was mainly the dog who needed supplies, but I thought I would grab some fresh stuff while I was there…you know, a few vegetables, some fruit…nothing out of the ordinary. Wandering round the produce section, the temperature began to rise.

I live alone and, in spite of the recalcitrant waistline, I eat very little. There are only so many portions of anything that I can eat and many summer fruits and vegetables do not keep well. I learned to shop for fresh produce in France, where ingredients are taken seriously and shopping is a tactile exercise. I can feel ripeness and readiness from avocado to zucchini.

Except, now, I can’t.

Apparently.

It is bad enough that, as a single person, I am condemned to eat the same vegetables four meals in a row because they are all now packed for an average sized family. I, personally, am not an average sized family. Or that I must buy a pack of several when I want only one. Quite apart from the unnecessary use of plastic in which they wrap the stuff, this just encourages food waste when things do not get used… or indeed, bought. Instead of disposing of one pepper past its best, the supermarkets throw out the whole pack when  the sell-by date has gone by. Not that sell-by dates have any relevance to the useability of the food; they are there only to keep the displays looking fresh.

That is a long-time grouse. I’ve never been happy about it and much prefer to shop at the greengrocery …of which we now have none at all…or the market…which is no longer much good around here. The supermarkets are cheaper and their food is all clean and shiny, nicely packed in the ubiquitous plastic, and apparently no-one wants to wash or peel food any more. And who brought in that idea? The supermarkets.

But I digress.

The thing that set me steaming was the plastic pot in which, apparently, all soft fruits are now sold. They have used them for years for mushrooms and strawberries. I can understand that. Mushrooms are what they are… strawberries are always pot luck unless you can taste them first, although you can, at least, see when they are ripe. Not so with apricots. Or peaches, nectarines and plums.

The apricots, for which I’d had the sudden craving, came packed in a strawberry-type punnet, with a sealed plastic lid. On further investigation, I found that all the stone-fruit did so. There is thus no way at all you can check if they are ripe or still iron-hard teeth-breakers.

I can understand that the supermarket finds this better as it prevents a certain amount of wastage to bruising, and gets both punter and punnet through the self-service checkouts far quicker, thus saving money on wages too. Even though the punnets that remain unsold past their sell-by dates will be thrown out anyway, regardless of ripeness or otherwise and completely ignoring the fact that we, the customers, are paying for that process.

Well, me, this customer, does not wish to be charged for unnecessary plastics or economic waste. All I wanted was a couple of apricots that I knew were ripe.

What really gets to me though is the way that the food giants are divorcing us from our food. We are dictated to at every turn and forced, through lack of choice, to accept what we are given as the norm. I want to be involved with my food enough to know what I am eating. I would like our children and grandchildren to realise that a steak is a slice of cow, and that it doesn’t come out of some magic machine neatly packed in plastic. I want to be grateful for what I eat, recognising that, lettuce or lamb, my food once had a life of its own, even if that life was different from mine. And I don’t want to encourage food waste when so many go hungry.

It is a matter of respect.

And that, it seems, is something the supermarkets do not have in stock.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com
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77 Responses to Forcibly divorced

  1. simonjkyte says:

    Is the supermarket open then? Might go round – something to do….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For me, there is nothing better than walking to our garden and picking fresh produce. I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mary Smith says:

    I hear you, Sue. All the plastic wrapping infuriates me. I hate not being able to feel and smell the fruit and veg I might buy. They even shrink wrap turnips! I mean, a turnip is not a vegetable which bruises easily no matter how many people handle it. And the hypocrisy is staggering. The government wants to reduce the amount of plastic in our landfills so slap a 5p charge on a plastic carrier bag, which the supermarkets maintain goes to charity, but fail to do anything to stop the mania for wrapping all the produce in plastic. I would still wash my fruit and veg however it is packaged. We’re lucky to still have a greengrocer in our town. I also object to things being packaged for a family of four – we are two people. And being told the fresh orange juice must be consumed within a certain number of days after opening. I’m the only one who drinks it. The bottle contains five portions so that’s one a day BUT says I must drink it within three days! I think I’ll write to the manufacturer and ask what exactly is going to happen to the orange juice on day four!
    Oooh, you’ve set me off and I should be working.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Turnips, like bananas, onions, potatoes… not only would we wash them but they are already perfectly packaged by nature and need peeling… why waste money by wrapping them in plastic and polystyrene? Grrr..

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Ritu says:

    Well said Sue!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. trentpmcd says:

    The supermarkets here still sell fruit individually, and let you touch them. Yes, if you can buy pre-bagged, but I rarely do. Same with many vegetables (not carrots). I hope the trend doesn’t catch on here! If so, I guess I’ll have to drive the extra miles and spend the extra money to buy at the organic markets.

    Like

  6. bobcabkings says:

    I am now grateful that my supermarket has not lowered itself to denying me the right to feel the fruit. We are descended from innumerable generations of fruit eaters and personal examination for ripeness and freshness is in our DNA. So sorry you have been betrayed.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. bobcabkings says:

    Reblogged this on cabbagesandkings524 and commented:
    Sue has been betrayed by her grocer.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The thought of shrink-wrapped fruit and vegies horrifies me as much as seeing pre-sliced mushrooms and chopped coleslaw. Our supermarket still supplies a paper bag for storing mushrooms correctly. We can buy unwashed spuds if we want and prod most of our fruit. Farmers’ markets are becoming popular in our area (Victoria, Australia) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I share this grouse in spades. Now living on my own for the first time in 20 years, I’m getting so angry about it, I might just explode. We’re discriminated against if we live on our own and/or are disabled. I’m furious about the minimum purchase for home delivery which is what I have to do until I can see and drive a car again. So much waste. Mind you, I was able to buy 1 baking potato from Sainsbury’s in yesterday’s delivery. The trouble with that was that I obviously clicked the wrong button and received 1 new potato (very small). It made me laugh but oh boy. Luckily, we do have a greengrocer’s here but I can’t always get up to the village in my mob scooter, particularly in the rain. Yours in deep empathy!

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Nick had one small vegetable delivered too… we laughed, but only because I could go and get what he needed. With so many people living alone, especially older people on pensions and tight budgets, having to buy in bulk is not always an option and I know that I very often eat badly rather than buy what will be wasted.

      Like

  10. I wrote a huge screed because it’s a personal bete noir. Perhaps it’s got caught in spam! I don’t think I can remember enough or have the energy to do it again! Suffice to say, I’m with you all the way!

    Like

  11. I know exactly what you mean. We had similar problems on the boat, no space, and way of buying small portions/single meal sizes. I got round the meat OK but fruit was another matter. Bananas tend to go stringy despite being green, and punnets of plums had at least one over ripe one which was turning the rest. Our larger supermarket still sells some fruit and veg loose, so I can pick my own. It may work out a bit more expensive than the pre packed stuff, but if I don’t have to throw half of it away, it pays for itself. Looking forward to buying in bulk and freezing it again. As for apricots, although they equate to one syn each, I buy the dried variety.

    Like

  12. I agree with you, Sue. It is a terrible thing that there is so much waste in a world where there would be enough to go around if our food was handled better. I also don’t like the packaging as that too creates waste and problems for mankind. It is all about greed and money.

    Like

  13. Supermarket abuse of fruit and veg is a pet hate of mine – so much so that it has inspired my current WIP!

    Like

  14. Agreed. This whole post is spot on. I absolutely love that last paragraph. “I want to be grateful for what I eat, recognising that, lettuce or lamb, my food once had a life of its own, even if that life was different from mine. And I don’t want to encourage food waste when so many go hungry.” ❤️

    Like

  15. scifihammy says:

    It’s really expensive buying for one and I agree about the packaging. Luckily here (SA) we can still get loose fruits and vegetables, and so can choose our own amounts and freshness, but the over-packaged samples are creeping in.

    Like

  16. Wow. All that packaging is ridiculous (and underhanded given that you don’t know what’s hiding at the bottom). Perhaps if the environmental laws were tougher and they had to take back all that packaging, they would stop.

    Like

  17. willowdot21 says:

    Oh! I do agree, the supermarket chains, over wrap our produce using too much plastic and cardboard! They also add extra sugar and additives to our food making food unhealthy!

    Like

  18. Eliza Waters says:

    Packaging is a pain and I hear your indignation as a single eater being ignored. Your post makes me grateful that we can still buy bulk fruit for the most part. Plus during the summer months there are many local farms that offer fresh produce – how I appreciate them!

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      We have very few small sellers in this area, apart from the occasional coooperative Farm Shop and they tend to be miles away and expensive. You try to do the right things by buying local and reducing plastics and waste, but the big guys don’t make it easy.

      Like

  19. floridaborne says:

    I agree with your assessment of the wastefulness of that practice. It not only wastes plastic but food. And consumers get very irate when most of what’s in the bottom of those small bins is either too ripe, damaged, or not ripe enough..

    The grocery stores where I live have fruit where you can pick out one at a time.There are areas of the produce department that offer pre-packaged for people who want to buy in bulk. Every check out counter has a scale built into it. It seems to make more sense doing it that way.

    Like

  20. jenanita01 says:

    Respect is obviously not a saleable commodity or something most people even recognise anymore. Sad place, our planet…

    Like

  21. Noah Weiss says:

    I wonder if the plastic-wrapping of everything appears only in the UK. In the States (at least where I live in the Midwest), you can buy fruit or vegetables by the piece and feel them.

    Like

  22. Adele Marie says:

    I hate the fact that greengrocers are now a thing of the past. We still had one up till about 10 years ago and Tara and I would go shopping for Mum with her wicker basket and come home with wonderful things because you could see, smell and buy just one if you wanted. Brown paper bags, not a plastic wrap in sight. We are going backward instead of forwards, Sue. xxx

    Like

  23. macjam47 says:

    I hear you, Sue. My poor husband has to listen to that same rant every time I come back from the grocery.

    Like

  24. dgkaye says:

    Brilliant post Sue. You’re so right. It seems many choices in life that used to be our own have gone to the wayside and the almighty dollar (pound) is behind every decision. 🙂 xx

    Like

  25. It’s just a business, Sue, only a business. Grocers no doubt just think in marketing terms. It’s a shame, though. —- Suzanne

    Like

  26. Oh I can undersstand where you are coming from here, Sue. I also like apricots and often have them for a lunchtime snack along with other fruits like plums, grapes and occasionally satsumas. Every day is a surprise as I never know whether the fruit is going to be juicy and sweet or sharp enough to cut your tongue on!

    Like

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