Monday, June 3, 2013

My bulk reality

After experiencing the joy that was The Future of Bulk (which, rereading my post, sounds like one big advertisement for Market of Choice. Huh. Well, I was really excited about all that bulk, don't change stores on my account, which is probably impossible anyway because they're not everywhere), I had to come to terms with my limited options here at home. And the more costly prices.

But ever undaunted I move on, because really, what choice do I have? I can rage against the machine, or accept it and get on with my life.

You don't live with an optimist for 17-plus years without some of that shit rubbing off on you. (Looking at you, Eric.)
Huckleberry's Natural Market
Anyway, on my most recent trip, I took a good second look at my options. Sometimes I get into such a rut that I fail to see what else is even out there. This is what happens when you are very pro-routine.

So I looked. I filled a jar with dried plums, I got some spelt flour, I picked up two mozzarella balls because emergency Stromboli* happens often in this house. I stuck to the perimeter of the store--forget you, inner aisles--and you know what? My bill was lower than usual. But mostly I was thrilled because I had very little that would need to be recycled or end up as trash at the end of it all.

I will never get to a true zero waste, but I might get close.

Oh, and maybe I should mention that we ate very well all week and at all three meals (plus snacks for the girls). There was no starvation. There was also less "MOOOOOM! What can I eaaaaaaaaaaaat!" because they had so many options. That week was full of win. It was very good for my self-esteem.

One thing that I've learned with my Adventures in Bulk-land is that bulk is not one section of the store, but everywhere. There's the main ordeal, all right, with its grains, sugars, dried fruits and herbs et al (even lotion and shampoo and liquid soap), but there are also nuts and trail mix in the produce section, fresh feta and mozzarella at the olive bar, and fresh yeast and maple syrup in the organic dairy aisle (not sure why that is, but whatevs, it's awesome).

And I guess you could count the loose fruits and veggies as bulk, too, right? I told you bulk is everywhere. My store also has bulk coffee and tea, but I like going to a local coffee roaster with my jar because it's fun to chat with other people who love coffee AND get a free pound after buying ten. That is math I can get behind.

Some bakeries have bulk bins for breads, but ours does not. Since we're in Oregon, there are "rules and regulations" about putting stuff into bags and jars from across the counter, apparently. Question: If it's MY bag and MY jar and MY germs and I'm okay with that, why do you care, The Man? We have two kick-ass bakeries in town that use paper bags--and one lets me use a pillow case at the farmers' market, so I'm willing to bet they'd let me do that in-store--that I know I should be utilizing but just don't. I'm a one-stop shopping kind of girl, and going to different locations is hard for me to get behind, even if they're just down the street.

What I'm saying is that this is on my list. Baby steps, y'all.

Anyway, I am very grateful for the bulk selection I have in my teeny little town, that my store lets me use bags and jars for some purchases, and that my family tends to not notice my zero waste efforts on the whole. This change has, for the most part, been easy. I wish all my minimalism projects were this simple.

*I've linked the recipe that taught our little family about the joy that is Stromboli. Since we don't believe broccoli belongs on a pizza--come on, nothing is THAT desperate--I use this as a guide and then do my own thing. Good recipes let you do that. Oh, and someday I'll have to post my favorite Naan recipe. That stuff is gold. And makes killer pizza crust.

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