Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Vote Early, Vote Often!

About 11 or 12 years ago, I saw the owner of Stonyfield Yogurt speak. He said something that really struck a chord with me. He said: "Every time we shop, we are voting". By what we buy, we are endorsing that product or that lifestyle. Companies spend great effort looking at their sales trying to determine what consumers want and then providing it. Since then, organic food sales have grown exponentially. Now you can even buy "All Natural" Doritos. I can only imagine what that conversation was like at Doritos: "Hey Bob, have you looked at the ingredients in these things, what is this stuff? We need a healthier choice!" ....or maybe they just noticed that all natural chips sales were up and they figured that they could increase sales by a couple percent.

That's the beautiful thing that the organic food movement has shown. It does not require a 50-percent market share to cause large scale change, it only requires a relatively small shift in purchasing. Companies have determined that using plastic packaging saves them a couple pennies per unit. However, if the sales of their competitor who uses non-plastic packaging started increasing, they would be quick to notice. So far, with a few exceptions (which we will talk about later), most things have a non-plastic alternative. Now sometimes there are 100 choices and 99 are in plastic, but luckily there is that one. Sometimes that one is a little more expensive, but like organic food, it has added value.

So after our first shopping trip, who did we vote for? Here are a few choices we made:

- Cereal: We typically buy it in a box, we changed to bulk

- Milk: Of all the organic varieties, only one did not have a plastic cap...that's Trader Joe's brand

- Fish and beef: This was cool, instead of buying pre-packaged meat, we got it from the deli at the Co-op and had it wrapped in wax paper. There is something really nice about getting your meat that way.

-Sausage: This was a little more difficult. The Co-op deli didn't have any, so we went to a traditional grocery store deli and got some. However, it wasn't hormone or nitrate/nitrite free (not something we want to endorse either). I am sure with a little petitioning, we could get the Co-op to get some.

-Toilet paper: We bought individual rolls wrapped in paper vs. the mega-pack wrapped in plastic

-Spinach: bought in bulk vs. the plastic bags or plastic clam shells

-Tortillas: Bought corn masa and made our own instead of buying packaged ones. No plastic and way tastier!


  1. There's got to be a farm nearby where you can get milk in a jar. When I was a kid we used to get it in big gallon jars, and the cream would float to the top. Mmmm warm cream over graham crackers for breakfast. Not sure if it was actually "healthy eating" though!

  2. Great list! Great insights! Very cool tortilla fun. My brother has to make his own (in China) because he can't buy them. There are lots of things we can make ourselves if we are willing.

  3. It is so crazy that I shop at the co-op every week and I have been buying things I didn't realize I could get plastic free from the deli. Thanks!

  4. Is waxed paper really better than plastic? I don't know much about it.

    ~ Kelly