By Jessica (@goodfull.life)
In the day and age of avocado toast and locally raised pork ribs, a grocery bill can be almost as expensive as rent. Treating yourself to local free-range eggs and kiwis grown right here on the Island will always taste better on your tongue and on your conscience. And, yes, kiwis can be grown on Vancouver Island.
While I can’t necessarily help you with the financial aspect of groceries and food - if i don’t pay attention, I can easily spend over the national average amount on food from grocery stores in a month ($494.50/month according to Stats Canada), I can maybe help with putting your dollar where your values are and spending your money a little more mindfully and a little more kind to the planet.
Being environmentally conscious when out in the community is equally important as making good choices at home and in the kitchen. There are a ton of environmentally friendly restaurants in town so what can we do at home?
We have little control over the companies that package and provide many of our household goods and we can use dollars as votes. If we all buy the local items then the stores will stock more of it. If we all buy more of the low-waste alternatives, the stores will stock more of them. The kitchen is a place where making some relatively small changes can really affect how much garbage and waste you make.
Try to buy your yams whole then cut them into fries; or your lettuce still as a head rather then cut up in a bag. Buying whole and in its natural form will cut down on plastic waste and packaging. It also decreases on packaging during the order/delivery process. If those yams happen to be local, then you are also helping decrease carbon emissions and keeping your money in the community - This is so important as our local business, shops, and restaurants are opening up after the covid quarantine.
I love to go to Michell’s farm! They are local and have great and surprisingly affordable produce. Any time I’m on the peninsula or out that way - airport run anyone? - I stop by and see what they have. They also provide a lot of in-season fruits and vegetables so you know you’re eating what the earth is providing at this time.
Your broccoli does not need a bag. It will be fine. Your oranges come with a built-in protective layer that you aren’t going to eat anyways, they don’t need a bag. Your carrots were grown underground with the bugs and dirts and a hermaphroditic worm most likely reproduced right beside it; the grocery store conveyor belt and your basket are not going to harm it. These days everything is being sanitized almost constantly and this doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere - and hopefully, you're washing your vegetables anyways!
Maybe try a vegetable scrub brush or scrub cloth to help you clean your fruits and veggies and keep the nutrients in the skin. If you’re concerned about keeping them fresh, put them in a Beeswax wrap - our favourite is Nature Bee Wraps!
This one is huge. Some stores may have changed their policies to align with the covid-19 recommendations.
Victoria is an amazing place to live simply because we have so many options when it comes to stores and restaurants that let you bring your own containers. Everyone from Bulk Barn to Thrifty Foods to Bin 4 for your leftovers will let you bring your own containers, if you ask. Hearing no is not the end of the world, be polite and try again next time you’re in. If we don’t ask for it, nothing will change. Power to the people, people are the power and all that.
Wrap and Roll doesn’t even bat an eye when I show up with my old Baan Thai take out containers and ask for my weekly 10 dalmatas and however many Fatayers they have left - if you ever invite me to a potluck, 100% this is what I’m bringing.
A weekly trip to Zero Waste Emporium keeps me well stocked and low waste. As I run out of items at home, I clean the containers and put them in my trunk over the course of the week when I head over every Sunday afternoon I know all the jars are in there. After constantly forgetting what each jar needed to be refilled with, I have started labelling them so my grocery list is right on the jars themselves.
I also tend to run in for a delicious chocolate protein cookie anytime I walk by - which needs NO PACKAGING; you pay for it then just grab it out of the bin! (with the tongs of course #germs)
In this crazy age of busy being oh so glorified, maybe get your food to stay. Get that sandwich on a plate and sit down - maybe even leave your phone in your pocket. I let myself buy lunch 1 day per work week and I can honestly say, it’s way more enjoyable when I sit down and eat it at whichever small to-go place or cafe I choose. It’s a way to relax more and be a little nicer to the earth.
Eating doesn’t have to be a long or drawn out event, if you only have 10 minutes try getting your sandwich on a plate rather than in a bunch of wrapping. Your brain may even like it more too.
The new QV coffeehouse, previously Moka house, is one of my go-to places close to my work; good food, great staff, and always quick enough to fit in over my lunch breaks. And lots of tables and chairs, what more can you ask for? Oh how about big windows and comfy cushions? Yup, they have those too.
Everyone at some point will make some waste, and we still need to try.
With all the restaurant closures and the changes over the past few months, we have all probably made a bit more waste then we are used to. I know a few of my favourite places would not fill reusable containers and I for sure brought home more takeout containers then I thought I would. All we can do is keep moving forward in the best way we can, trying to do better next time.
If we all tried imperfectly, the world would be a much better - and less on fire - place.
A while ago I got a to-go cup at a coffee shop when my usable cup was in the car. I was in a rush and wasn’t thinking - and got a disposal to-go cup. And that’s okay. I will keep trying. Just because it’s hard doesn't mean we shouldn’t try.
Next time maybe I can get my coffee to stay and take the much deserved break we all need.