I was commenting to Rob last night that I have been so relieved for market season and our garden harvest because it means I do not need to head to the grocery store nearly so often. I have been enjoying the lack of commercial exposure, and sheer overwhelm when I enter the appropriately named ‘Superstore.’
I have gone through many seasons related to shopping; a self proclaimed shop-a-holic, a deal-finder, a couponer, a contester, and a thrifter. I am trying to break away from the grip that consumerism has on me, and often will rationalize my engagement with it as getting one up on the corporations (as in winning things, or stockpiling when things are on sale so they aren’t making as much money). The veins of consumerist thinking run deep, and reach into facets of my life that are necessity for our current situation. So I am stuck with a balancing act, attempting to consume less and consume wisely. The problem is that my deal-finder/shop-a-holic-ness still comes out sometimes.
Take last night for example, after drumming up the energy to check my flyers for price matches, I headed out to get groceries for the first time in a month. We were out of cheese. I have yet to find a local supplier for organic dairy, and my children rely on cheese as a staple lunch item. In any case, I had my list, and I was good to go. While collecting the items on my list, I noticed they had Talapia on sale. Talapia is one of the VERY few fish we’ll eat, based on its low environmental impact, low mercury levels and it is farmed. It was on for $8 for 6 pieces since the best before date had been reached. Out came my inner shopper…SCORE! I bought 4 giant packages.
When I got home, I got right to washing the fish and putting it in freezer bags, telling Rob how important it was for me to make sure this fish didn’t spoil before I got to freezing it. Normally, we re-use plastic bags from other products for this purpose, but somehow had none in the drawer. I had to use new Ziploc bags. I cringed as I removed the fish from is plasticized foam tray and placed 8 or so new sheaths of plastic over it for freezing. Rob wanted to get to bed, and so we were rushing to get the rest of the other refrigerator items (read: cheese) packed away. We headed up to bed.
When I woke to feed the baby at midnight, I thought about the fish. Had I remembered to put it in the freezer? No, but Rob had likely done it, since he cleaned up the foam trays for me, and had said he’d help me when he’d finished putting the apples in the dehydrator. Surely the fish was in the freezer and there was nothing to fret about. Back to sleep I went.
The report in the morning: the fish had been left on the counter all night.
My heart sank. My eyes leaked. It was awful. The fish is currently frozen, as Rob is holding out hope that it can still be fermented.
We usually don’t purchase much meat. When we do, we are careful about bringing in products from overseas. My list of failures was long for this particular issue. It went something like this:
- What a waste of PLASTIC – the wrapper on the fish packaging, the foam trays which we decided not to use for printmaking this time since we were too tired to wash them up, the new ziploc bags I had used to package it.
- The waste of life…12 fish.
- The waste of energy in the production of the food for those fish, the farming of the fish, the transporting of it to the grocery store, and the plastics used for its storage
- The extreme frustration of trying so hard to make sure the fish was taken care of properly only to have it get wasted
- The irony of the ‘deal,’ which turned out to cost me $32; a fee I apparently paid in order to harm the planet
- The loss of 8 meals for my family…easy meals too
- The self-defeat of not just getting up to check if it had been put away when I awoke at midnight
Rob suggested I look for a deeper message in this event. I replied with, ‘can’t it just be a mistake?’ But I can’t help returning to the idea that there’s something else to be listened to here. This is not the first time the consumerist bug has bitten me and caused an adverse reaction. Perhaps I need more sleep. Perhaps fish from Honduras doesn’t have a place in our home. Perhaps I need to stay out of the supermarket.