Avoiding food packaging

In the fall of 2014, I noticed a lot of my garbage came from food packaging. I don’t like when people pollute my world, so I try to avoid polluting theirs.

I thought of an experiment: to try to go one week without buying any food where I’d have to throw away food packaging. For six months I planned and thought about doing it until one day I realized all the planning and thinking wasn’t getting me anywhere.

I decided to start the week then and there. I knew I wouldn’t die.

It turns out you succeed more when you act instead of planning for six months. You just go to the store, buy food without packaging, and don’t buy food with packaging. You have to buy different than you used to, but when you haven’t lived by your values, living by your values requires change.

I made it two-and-a-half weeks before buying my first food with packaging—no bags, no boxes, no bottles, no rubber bands, no stickers, no packaging. Just as humans lived for 300,000 years before a few decades ago.

In the years since, I’ve kept my waste below 10% of what I used to. As one measure, I have to take out my landfill garbage once or twice a year now. I’m trying to bring it down.

The most important measures for me are that my diet is

  • More delicious than ever
  • Cheaper than ever
  • More convenient than ever
  • More social than ever—that is, people come over for meals more and I know the farmers who grow my food

I also eat more food than ever since most of what I eat has a lot of fiber and not many calories. You can’t beat food being delicious, cheap, convenient, social, and eating to stuffed every meal. I can’t believe I ate different before.

Click the contents to the left to read posts I wrote on avoiding food packaging.

Avoiding food packaging

Something I’ve meant to do as I cut out more prepared foods is to go for a while without buying any food with any packaging. I think it would make an interesting experiment and I’m learning a lot experientially.

I’ve been thinking about how to do it effectively—most consistently, or most something or other.

Tonight I bought some fruits and vegetables at the produce stand down the block, telling the guy three or four times I didn’t need a bag as he kept trying to give me one, I remembered my principle that “I have low standards the first time.” I’d rather try it imperfectly than never get around to something I plan forever.

So I’ll give a shot at buying no food for a week with any packaging and see what happens. Tonight’s broccoli had a rubber band holding the stalks together so I’ll have to start tomorrow. I’ll allow myself to use things I already have. And I’ll allow buying bulk foods when I bring bags with me, which I do anyway. But anything prepackaged is out. I think that means I’ll have to have almost only fruits, vegetables, legumes, and things close to their natural state. I happen to have a bunch of staples like salt, spices, wine, and oil, so my first time won’t be too hard.

I guess I’ll cut out restaurants too. I’ve been bringing lunches of leftovers with me lately so that shouldn’t be too hard either.

Anyway, I’ll let you know how it goes and if I make it.

EDIT: Here are my results:

Avoiding food packaging

In the fall of 2014, I noticed a lot of my garbage came from food packaging. I don’t like when people pollute my world, so I try to avoid polluting theirs.

I thought of an experiment: to try to go one week without buying any food where I’d have to throw away food packaging. For six months I planned and thought about doing it until one day I realized all the planning and thinking wasn’t getting me anywhere.

I decided to start the week then and there. I knew I wouldn’t die.

It turns out you succeed more when you act instead of planning for six months. You just go to the store, buy food without packaging, and don’t buy food with packaging. You have to buy different than you used to, but when you haven’t lived by your values, living by your values requires change.

I made it two-and-a-half weeks before buying my first food with packaging—no bags, no boxes, no bottles, no rubber bands, no stickers, no packaging. Just as humans lived for 300,000 years before a few decades ago.

In the years since, I’ve kept my waste below 10% of what I used to. As one measure, I have to take out my landfill garbage once or twice a year now. I’m trying to bring it down.

The most important measures for me are that my diet is

  • More delicious than ever
  • Cheaper than ever
  • More convenient than ever
  • More social than ever—that is, people come over for meals more and I know the farmers who grow my food

I also eat more food than ever since most of what I eat has a lot of fiber and not many calories. You can’t beat food being delicious, cheap, convenient, social, and eating to stuffed every meal. I can’t believe I ate different before.

Click the contents to the left to read posts I wrote on avoiding food packaging.

Avoiding food packaging

Something I’ve meant to do as I cut out more prepared foods is to go for a while without buying any food with any packaging. I think it would make an interesting experiment and I’m learning a lot experientially.

I’ve been thinking about how to do it effectively—most consistently, or most something or other.

Tonight I bought some fruits and vegetables at the produce stand down the block, telling the guy three or four times I didn’t need a bag as he kept trying to give me one, I remembered my principle that “I have low standards the first time.” I’d rather try it imperfectly than never get around to something I plan forever.

So I’ll give a shot at buying no food for a week with any packaging and see what happens. Tonight’s broccoli had a rubber band holding the stalks together so I’ll have to start tomorrow. I’ll allow myself to use things I already have. And I’ll allow buying bulk foods when I bring bags with me, which I do anyway. But anything prepackaged is out. I think that means I’ll have to have almost only fruits, vegetables, legumes, and things close to their natural state. I happen to have a bunch of staples like salt, spices, wine, and oil, so my first time won’t be too hard.

I guess I’ll cut out restaurants too. I’ve been bringing lunches of leftovers with me lately so that shouldn’t be too hard either.

Anyway, I’ll let you know how it goes and if I make it.

EDIT: Here are my results:

Avoiding food packaging

In the fall of 2014, I noticed a lot of my garbage came from food packaging. I don’t like when people pollute my world, so I try to avoid polluting theirs.

I thought of an experiment: to try to go one week without buying any food where I’d have to throw away food packaging. For six months I planned and thought about doing it until one day I realized all the planning and thinking wasn’t getting me anywhere.

I decided to start the week then and there. I knew I wouldn’t die.

It turns out you succeed more when you act instead of planning for six months. You just go to the store, buy food without packaging, and don’t buy food with packaging. You have to buy different than you used to, but when you haven’t lived by your values, living by your values requires change.

I made it two-and-a-half weeks before buying my first food with packaging—no bags, no boxes, no bottles, no rubber bands, no stickers, no packaging. Just as humans lived for 300,000 years before a few decades ago.

In the years since, I’ve kept my waste below 10% of what I used to. As one measure, I have to take out my landfill garbage once or twice a year now. I’m trying to bring it down.

The most important measures for me are that my diet is

  • More delicious than ever
  • Cheaper than ever
  • More convenient than ever
  • More social than ever—that is, people come over for meals more and I know the farmers who grow my food

I also eat more food than ever since most of what I eat has a lot of fiber and not many calories. You can’t beat food being delicious, cheap, convenient, social, and eating to stuffed every meal. I can’t believe I ate different before.

Click the contents to the left to read posts I wrote on avoiding food packaging.

Buying no food with packaging, eighteen days and counting

Two-and-a-half weeks ago I decided to avoid buying any food with packaging for a week. I’m on eighteen days and counting.

I didn’t try to come up with a perfect rule because trying for perfection kept making me delay trying. I settled on the rule that I wouldn’t buy food that had any packaging or get food at a restaurant. I’d figure out on the fly what to do in border cases. I allowed myself to use food I already had.

Discoveries

It hasn’t been as hard as I thought.

I’m eating a lot more fruits and vegetables than usual.

I’m also cooking a lot more beans and peas from dry.

Instead of buying a lot of produce at once, I’m buying enough for a couple days.

Some things are harder to get, like bread.

I find I’m socializing more, or maybe I’m noticing it because cooking all the time means cooking more, and when people are over and I cook, they end up eating what would have been my leftovers. I would have thought I’d socialize less because people often socialize around food.

There’s a lot of free food around me, usually at meetings, mostly hard to eat when I won’t use the paper plates, plastic cups, plastic forks, and napkins. But since I bring plastic bags for shopping almost every day and a metal spoon to eat my packed lunch, I find I can eat it anyway. Only now I notice how much people throw out. Free food means a big pile of garbage that I’m coming to find disgusting.

People seem intrigued by the idea.

My produce vendor is used to me not accepting bags and we’ve made a game of it since even when he knows I won’t take it, he reflexively offers me bags. This culture is crazy. I also returned the rubber bands from the day before I started, so maybe I’m nineteen days in or more.

I think I’m eating pretty healthy. I can feel yet more fat disappear from my abs. Feeling the skin becoming thinner there creates confidence and security in an area I think most people feel insecure.

Ready-to-eat food isn’t that much more convenient than having lots of produce around.

Pictures

Here’s a typical result from shopping over the past eighteen days, which I do about every two or three days. I had to take off the rubber band from the broccoli, which the vendor said he could reuse. He displayed the cherries in a plastic bag. I poured them into my bag and left the bag with him, which he said he could reuse. I believe him because the display bag was for grapes, so I think he was already reusing it.

The plastic container is soaking chick peas for cooking in the rice cooker / vegetable steamer / miracle appliance. I’m used to having dry beans, split peas, chick peas, and other legumes soaking all the time so I can cook them and have them ready in about an hour.

It helps to have a bulk food store a couple blocks away. I bring old plastic bags to refill. The plastic bag holding the fruits and vegetables is left over from before. I’ve reused it countless times.

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Here is my breakfast every day, not just during this trial: oats, chia seeds, chopped fruit, and nuts. I happened to have a bag of flax seed powder someone left with me from before the experiment so I finished it. I had chia seeds from before (actually, about five pounds of them from a sale), so I switched back to them.

The apples come with a sticker on them, which you could call packaging. That’s the one thing I didn’t avoid. I read they’re edible, though, so maybe they don’t count.

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The results of another trip, both to the bulk food store and the produce vendor. I buy a lot of nuts. Usually I only get unsalted but on a whim I got some salted, which is why two bags.

The bottle was from the olive oil I finished. The bulk food store has bulk olive oil, so I refilled my old bottle.

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Another trip to the produce vendor. Okra seems to be in season. I’m eating tons of the slimy stuff.

The bowl in the upper-right corner that you see in nearly every picture is my compost bowl for trimmings. It’s there all the time. When it fills, I empty it into a bag in the freezer. When that fills, the next Saturday I take it to the people who collect it Saturday mornings in Abington Square, about a ten-minute walk from home.

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The plastic container on the left has peanut butter, which I refill at the bulk food store. I’m going through a lot of peanut butter.

The jar had heirloom tomato puree from the Community Supported Agriculture farm I bought a season of produce from. I already had it from before this trial. The bowl of vegetables was what was left from a school event I went to. When it ended they were getting rid of what people didn’t eat. Since I brought plastic bags for shopping that day, they thanked me for filling up my bags with vegetables. I couldn’t believe everyone left the healthiest, best food.

The bread was this Scandinavian healthy bread I still had in my fridge from before the trial. It tastes delicious toasted with peanut butter. I thought I would miss it, but I haven’t missed it that much.

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Here are some chickpeas left over from one evening I packed for lunch one day. It’s mainly chick peas, olive oil, salt, cayenne pepper cooked together, then I squeeze lemon in when I eat it. They sell roughly the same thing for $4 but in a container half the size. This was part of a batch about ten times bigger with ingredients that cost me probably about a dollar.

This experiment, though, showed me more than the cost difference. The pollution difference is crazy. Ten of those little containers is a lot of garbage. When you use that packaging, you’re helping create “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the world we live in.” I am too, and this experiment is helping me see how to decrease that.

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Here are the bags full of the produce from the school event I mentioned two pictures ago. Purple cauliflower!

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On the left is my usual oat, chia, fruit, and nut breakfast. On the right is some steamed spinach I packed as part of lunch that day.

The pecans in front don’t go into my cereal. They taste too good to mix so I pick them out to eat separately.

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Another lunch. This one was split pea soup. I had some pita bread left over so I crumbled that into the plastic container when I ate lunch. I also nearly always pack nuts to snack on, which is in the plastic bag.

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I mentioned the heirloom tomato puree. I decided to make a vegetable soup with it, with broccoli and cauliflower and such.

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More vegetables from another event where people didn’t finish the crudite, but I had a bag to take them home with. I steamed them and ate them with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

I would have thought people would look at me funny taking vegetables home, but I got the opposite. They kept telling me they wished they ate more vegetables. I’m thinking, “They’re right here! I’m taking them because you didn’t eat them.”

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Another lunch. Split pea soup and nuts.

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Here are the bags I stick in my bag in the morning when I expect to shop that day. They add about an ounce of weight, take up almost no space, and take a few seconds to prepare. The bottle on the right is because the bulk food place sells dish soap, which I ran out of so I refilled there.

By the way, if you get plastic bags and tell yourself you use them all up, you’re lying to yourself. You get probably ten or a hundred times more bags than you need. I avoid getting them every chance I can and I’m swimming in them from when friends leave them when they bring stuff (probably convincing themselves that since they gave me their garbage to carry a few bottles of beer that they aren’t polluting but they didn’t have to get the bag in the first place).

People, you don’t need the bags.

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On the left, I’m cooking split pea soup. It gets frothy for some reason. Usually I add ginger and carrots. On the right, I’m steaming broccoli. You can also see the big bag of chia seeds behind. I have four bags like that from the sale I mentioned above.

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Another view of the broccoli and split pea soup.

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Here’s that bread I mentioned having had already from before the no packaging trial, which I used up and haven’t replaced. Also peanut butter. The vegan turkey salad is a pre-made product I make open-face sandwiches with that was left over from before the trial and that I also didn’t replace.

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Another view of the same things. I should mention that the peanut butter comes out of a container that grinds peanuts. You can see them going into the grinder so you know it’s one ingredient. The oil doesn’t separate like prepackaged peanut butter. I like this stuff more, plus I reuse the same containers.

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Here’s a bag of dry split peas in a bag I had left over.

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Split peas cooking another time from above. This particular evening two friends came over and I shared almost all of it with them, meaning I had to cook more times, but they were happy. One of them brought beer, so I had a bottle of beer. Since he paid for it and brought it over, I didn’t count it as my buying it.

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Another lunch. This time nuts in the bag for snacks. Beans cooked from dry in the container. They don’t look great but they taste great. It’s easy to make them taste great by putting in more olive oil when they cook. And salt.

I ran out of salt the other day, by the way. The bulk food store sells salt, but it’s so fancy-pants Himalayan special stuff I might get regular salt in a salt grinder, which I don’t have, as the purchase that includes packaging, though I might count a grinder as a tool, not packaging.

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Same things.

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Well, there’s a sample of what I’ve eaten.

I should mention I feel as productive as ever in this time. I’m writing about a lot of cooking, but it doesn’t take much time. Plus the fresh ingredients have more flavor than prepared stuff. If it seems like a lot, it’s only because I’m writing about two-and-a-half weeks of it in one post.

Meanwhile, eating at restaurants takes time too. I’ve long been surprised to find that eating out takes more effort than shopping, cooking, and cleaning. It doesn’t seem worth it.

I’m not sure when I’ll stop the experiment. The longer I go without packaged or restaurant foods, the easier it gets and the more it feels like buying packaged food will feel like defeat. Still, I know it will happen at some point.

Bought first food with packaging after 2.5 weeks

I’ve been avoiding buying food with any packaging. I started April 20. I updated my progress with pictures in “Buying no food with packaging, eighteen days and counting“.

Saturday evening I bought some onions in one of those net bags. Onions make you cry. Today I’m scheduled to get a shipment of vegetables from my farm share and that comes in a box so the experiment would have ended today had I not bought the onions in the bag. Still, I could have bought loose onions to avoid polluting the plastic bag.

Onions

In the meantime I’ve

  • Produced almost no trash or recycling
  • Eaten a higher ratio of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes than ever
    • Probably fiber too, in particular
  • Spent as little on food as I can remember
  • Spent less time preparing food than usual
  • Talked to my produce vendor guy
  • Shared my plan with friends and colleagues, who all supported the experiment
  • Got a bunch of free fruits and vegetables that people didn’t eat at events
  • And more…

After finding eating closer to the source easier than I expected, I expect I’ll eat that way more in the long term.

I recommend trying the experiment yourself. What do you have to lose?

Good luck!

EDIT: Here’s a story a friend wrote about “Berlin duo launch a supermarket with no packaging.” I’m glad to see a community already doing what I’m experimenting with and the media reporting it. Humans lived for hundreds of thousands of years without packaging. I’m sure we can keep doing it, even if it’s more profitable to refine and package.

Leadership and the Environment Podcast episode #3: Freedom, empathy, garbage, and compost

How much waste do you create that others have to deal with?

The environment involves more than global warming. As my Inc. piece reported recently, we’re producing enough waste that an island in the middle of the Pacific, with no inhabitants and thousands of miles from any city, is covered with plastic and other waste, most of it needless garbage:

East Beach Henderson island

East Beach Henderson island

I don’t know what to call that amount and kind of garbage: sickening? Insane? Irresponsible? Typical of our lifestyle?

Here’s how remote the island is:

Pitcairn Islands

The polluted beach pictured above is shown in red

Maybe a couple pieces of that garbage came from you! … or me.

We both contributed to a system that helped produce it.

In any case, I can’t take responsibility for your behavior, but I can take responsibility for mine. My podcast video today shows the results of my waste habits. I plan to waste less, but I’ve cut my waste down a lot from before.

EDIT: On June 18 I emptied my metal and plastic recycling. I’ll record the next time I empty it too, since I consider recycling closer to landfill garbage than to not consuming something at all. Just because you can reuse aluminum doesn’t mean using it so you can eat a few tomatoes is clean.

Eating at restaurants seems weirder the more healthily I eat. Same with pre-prepared food.

I can’t believe the changes in how I see food my last two changes in food habit created. And I can’t believe how easy and cheap the changes were.

The changes were to buy a farm share, where I pick up fresh vegetables from a drop-off place near me each week, and the other was my two-and-a-half-week experiment not buying food where I had to throw away packaging after.

Each farm share shipment has enough vegetables for side dishes for a family for a week. Since I’m one person, I have to eat vegetables as main dishes every day to keep up with all these vegetables. I don’t have space for pasta, bread, and other filler. I was worried about not knowing what to do with the vegetables, but any vegetable with olive oil, garlic, onions, salt, and pepper as a last resort is pretty good.

Since the no-packaged-food experiment showed how easy cooking from raw and unpackaged is, I keep a constant supply of beans, nuts, sweet potatoes, and things like that on hand.

Today’s lunch, for example: Mung beans cooked with fresh thyme (I had to look up what the herb was called. It just came with the farm share and smelled amazing), olive oil, salt, and some hot sauce. On the side I had some fresh kohlrabi that I marinated in kimchi sauce. Total preparation time: about ten minutes—less time than it would take to walk to a restaurant. I put the beans to soak overnight, put them in the rice cooker / vegetable steamer / miracle appliance with the oil, thyme, and salt when I woke up so they cooked while I showered and did my morning burpees, and then packed them. Almost no work, nearly free, healthy, delicious, and convenient. And very little to throw away.

Restaurants

I ordered a burrito a little while ago without rice at my favorite Mexican restaurant. I asked them to put extra vegetables in, but they said they couldn’t because it was against their policy. I also got it without the shell. So they brought me half a plate of vegetables with some melted cheese. That’s what I’m making every day today but I’m not paying over ten dollars for it, it takes less time, the vegetables are healthier, and they taste better too.

The more I look at restaurant food, the more I see filler—bread, pasta, fries, ice in the drinks, etc. They usually work on decor and presentation, but I care about the food’s taste, nutritional value, and, if those are sufficient, quantity. Those criteria conflict with a restaurant’s profit, though. They want to sell alcohol and desserts most. They don’t want to give quantity on vegetables so they give it on filler. I don’t want quantity on foods I don’t want.

I know everyone knows this already, but these habit changes make me see it more viscerally.

Aren’t the two main points of a restaurant to give you better food than you could make yourself and less work? Fresh vegetables all the time beats most restaurants.

A friend took me to the Four Seasons restaurant. He was paying so cost didn’t matter. I’ll grant that the salad and main course were delicious and more delicate and creative than what I can do, but not life-changingly so. And the desserts were just sugar. Don’t get me wrong. If you invite me, I’ll go to a restaurant like that, but few restaurants are like that. Most detract from the deliciousness of the plants they’re starting with.

How do you justify polluting?

A friend commented on my experiment not to buy food where I’d have to throw away wrapping after, “Avoiding food packaging” and “Buying no food with packaging, eighteen days and counting.” I started doing it mainly to pollute less. He said “You know, the difference you’ll make on the world is less than a billionth of a percent?”

That’s how he justified whatever behavior he does that pollutes.

I responded, “I care about what I’m responsible for.

I don’t take responsibility for anyone else’s behavior, nor was I criticizing his. He has his values and he lives by them. I try not to impose my values on others. But I take responsibility for my actions and their results on others. To me, it’s a matter of integrity. I live in a world polluted by billions of people before me and I will leave behind a world affected by me. I don’t like the pollution I was born into and I want to be responsible for as little pollution to others, even after I die.

It turns out the experiment led me to change my behavior more than I expected, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and cooking at home a lot more. The change improved my life a lot. Eating is a big part of life. I can’t believe I waited this long to make this change.

I find holding yourself accountable tends to improve one’s life.

Recycling doesn't pollute much less than throwing stuff away

Throwing things away so they’ll end up in landfills pollutes. No two ways about it. Not using something in the first place doesn’t pollute. Recycling feels like it’s roughly in the middle. If you only have two comparisons and no objective scale, how else can you compare something in the middle but roughly in the middle.

Since I wanted to feel better about myself, I probably thought of recycling as closer to not using something in the first place. Reusing polluted even less. Here’s how I thought of the pollution scale of throwing things out:

garbage scale before

This belief fit the phrase “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” They all seemed better than throwing something away and mostly related to each other.

You can pollute a lot less than recycling

Years ago I started composting, where you decompose plant waste like apple stems and peach pits to make more fertile soil with. Composting reduced my garbage and changed my perspective. It seemed less polluting than even reusing, which still ends up with something in a landfill. Moreover, it changed my picture of the pollution scale.

April’s experiment not buying food where I would have to throw away packaging after got me to cut down my garbage by maybe 75%. I take weeks to fill a garbage bag now.

I’ve only opened one can of food since then. I’ve started to look at cans as weird ways to store food, asking myself why I pay for people to dig aluminum ore out of the ground and melt it—what do you think aluminum’s melting temperature is?—just so I can have a few beans. Cooking dry beans takes energy, as does life, but less than melting aluminum. Then after you use the can, recycling it means melting it again.

Now I have more points on the scale. In this light, recycling looks a lot more like throwing stuff away. Here’s my new scale:

garbage scale after

I recommend trying a week of not buying any food with packaging to throw away. Even if you don’t make the week, I predict you’ll learn more about foods, eat healthier, save money, and find more tasty food. What do you have to lose?

Restaurants make "entertainment for your mouth," designed for profit, not health. Same with packaged food.

The more I cook from whole vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and so on, the more skeptically I look at companies that prepare food.

Restaurants and packaged foods are designed to entertain your mouth, not to sustain you. If the people behind them have to sacrifice your health for their profit, they’ll do it.

Increasingly I see them as seeking profit at the expense of my health, since what makes the most profit from them is rarely the healthiest food. Whole foods retaining all their fiber spoil fast, probably because they are healthy for other forms of life besides us, like bacteria that break them down, and fiber-removed foods are less healthy for all forms of life.

My mental models about restaurants and sellers of packaged food have changed the more I see them selling what entertains—sugar, fat, fiber-less—not healthy. Also pretty decor. And learning that sit-down restaurants are as unhealthy as fast food restaurants confirms my suspicion.

I may have overstated myself a bit, but I don’t think too much. I still like going to restaurants. They are entertaining—for your eyes and nose too. But the more I get whole foods fresh from the farm and cook, the more I prefer what I make and the more I look at their stuff like a Trojan horse that pollutes too much.

Meanwhile, again, the results are that I’m

  • Eating as much volume of food as ever (I love eating!)
  • Saving money
  • Saving time
  • Enjoying more flavor
  • Getting more definition on my abs

and other benefits. Enjoying life is what this is all about.

Less food packaging = more food variety

The set of packaged and unpackaged food is greater than the set of only unpackaged food.

You would think that restricting your diet to avoid packaged food would lower its variety.

I have found, to the contrary, that avoiding packaged food has increased the variety of food I eat.

When companies choose to package food, they seem to choose to make it homogeneous too.

If you want a varied diet, I recommend going to the basics of fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and unpackaged stuff. You already know it’s healthier. It’s also cheaper and, with practice, more convenient. If you think it’s inconvenient, that sounds like a lack of skill. The most effective way to develop your skill is to practice. Next time you shop, try buying only foods where you won’t throw away or recycle anything.

Why can't you stop polluting?

I get that everyone has their eating habits and it’s hard to meet them all.

Even so, the message I send people about not bringing garbage to my place when I invite them over gives the option of bringing nothing:

By the way, no need to bring anything, but if you do, I’m avoiding packaging, so please don’t bring anything packaged — no bags, bottles, rubber bands, etc. That usually means fresh fruit or vegetables carried in bags you brought to the store, but as I said, nothing is fine. Here’s some background: Avoiding Food Packaging, plus links within.

I’m trying to reduce this outcome: Scientists Find Most Trashed Spot on Earth: A Once-Pristine Paradise.

So far, not one person has come over without garbage. Every visitor has brought bags, boxes, etc. They didn’t have to bring anything!

I guess at least they bring less garbage than people who don’t get the message. Today someone came over with a bottle of water. When she left, I saw that she left the empty bottle at my place. A podcaster thanked me for doing his show by mailing me a box of brownies through a commercial service—a quadruple whammy since I avoid eggs, I avoid fiber-removed food like sugar, I avoid packaged food (each brownie was individually wrapped), and I avoid polluting packaging.

Friends bring plastic bags, bottles, and so on. It’s mindless. But the plastic will be around for centuries or more. One piece here or there wouldn’t be a big deal, but it’s fundamental to our society. Biodegradable things at least wouldn’t hurt others as much, but it’s mostly plastic. Recyclable doesn’t mean no waste and is usually a far cry from reducing consumption.

How can we change our culture to stop valuing garbage so much?