The story that has stayed in my mind was the call to direct action by the environment minister, Ben Bradshaw:
While saying he would like to see targets for waste reduction spelled out in and included in annual reports, Mr Bradshaw also urged shoppers to force the grocers to move faster by taking direct action. After paying for their goods, shoppers should remove "excessive and unnecessary" wrappers and leave them behind. (Guardian. Tuesday, 14 November).
This probably struck a chord as my mum is obsessed by cucumbers in plastic jackets. She hates them. If she sees a cucumber in its natural state she buys it (whether or not she needs it). I've lost count of the times I've been sent home with half a cue.
Eager to find out what the supermarkets thought of Bradshaw's plan three Guardian journalists were sent to find out. In summary:
Sainsbury's: threatens to call the manager.
Waitrose: comments that Bradshaw doesn't have to work behind a till.
M&S: helps remove the packaging and offers to put it in the bin.
Tesco: seems prepared and takes the packaging.
Morrisons: puts all the packaging into a plastic bag frantically.
Asda: reacts as if it is a perfectly normal thing to do.
My response? To remind myself to avoid supermarkets altogether. Packaging is a small part of a much bigger problem. After checking the internet for Sunday Farmer's Markets in London I set off for Marylebone on the tube. (The journey there and back was sufficient for me to read and thoroughly enjoy Weedon's Diary of a Nobody).
Smaller than I perhaps expected the market (sited on a car park; wonderful) was not a disappointment. My bags came home loaded with a wonderful array of fresh, seasonal vegetables bought from the people who grew them. I asked the man on the potato stall what he recommended for mash. Did I want “continental mash...smooth and creamy” or “Irish/English mash...fluffy and floury”? Plumping for the latter I came away with a bag of Lady Balfour. “Named after the founder of the Soil Association.”
The apple and almond tart I bought from Pâtisserie Valérie on Marylebone High Street was exquisite and worth a return trip all on its own.
To find a farmers' market in London click here. For the rest of the country here.