Most of us don’t live near a farmers’ market or a zero-waste shop. We buy most of our food at a regular supermarket. Here we are offered all kinds of food, some organic and local. Most are industrially produced, usually wrapped in plastic, and possibly sprayed with colorants to look more appealing. Some have travelled a thousand miles from exotic countries. If you – like me – care for nature and wildlife, there are some aspects we can take into account before buying.
1. I always check what the origin of a fruit or vegetable is. I prioritize local food from where I live (Belgium). Secondly, I try not to buy food produced outside of the European Union, such as lemons from New Zealand. I’m sure they are delicious, but the CO2 emissions produced by the plane that carried them here are not.
2. I only buy fruits and vegetables that come in bulk. This way I avoid excessive, single use food packaging. I take my own little bags from home to wrap the foods. The same goes for bread, croissants, etc.
3. Look for seasonal fruits and vegetables. We are so used to having a big variety that we forget which foods are in season locally. There are several benefits to buying seasonal fruits from the country we live in: the product will be fresh, we give back to our community, and it’s cheaper.
4. Buying meat and dairy is one of my biggest frustrations in the supermarket, because it’s impossible to buy this without plastic wrapping. It’s better to buy meat at a butcher’s shop, which provides superior quality, transparent production method and no wrapping (if we ask!). At the supermarket, we can check whether it’s made locally, then at least we avoid CO2 emissions. Or, we can go vegan. I always check whether the eggs’ packaging says “free range” or “cage free” (vrije uitloop). Senselessly cruel practices such as battery cages must be stopped.
By the way, did you know that every egg is tracked? Every egg has a code. In this box they all had code 1-BE which stands for free range eggs, coming from Belgium. I love transparency!
5. I walk straight passed the water bottles and soft drinks aisle. Having lived in a country with clean tap water all my life, I have never understood why we should buy bottled water? I never buy soft drinks as it's just water, sugar, flavoring and coloring.
I love this video, a test that proves on basis of pH levels that we are being tricked by water bottles companies and that tap water is perfectly OK. By the way, water bottles companies are tricking us on many levels. if you are interested in this topic, I recommend you to further read this article.
6. In general, I try to buy as least as possible plastic-wrapped items. For example, if I want to buy chocolate, I buy one that is wrapped in paper instead of plastic (and check that it’s fair trade).
7. My last tip is that some items we’re just better off not buying them in the supermarket, like cosmetics. We can only choose between huge, conglomerate brands - like L’Oreal and Nivea - that do not make any positive efforts towards our nature and wildlife. They also include harmful ingredients in their cosmetics’ formulas that we should be on the lookout for. I started buying in zero-waste shops or bio shops because they allow for information transparency. I wrote about it in more detail in this article.
New products constantly appear, like the make-up line Nectar of Beauty by Les Cosmétiques Design Paris. Looking at the packaging, it looked like the most natural option on the shelf, so I bought it. At home, I did some research to understand what kind of company is really behind “Les Cosmétiques Design Paris”. I found out that it’s a private label brand from the big supermarket Carrefour. I tried to find more on how they create their products, but the website was so faulty I couldn’t navigate it. So basically, I had no idea what I was putting on my skin and I felt tricked.
Hope these tips help! Please let me know how it goes or whether you have some other tips that are not included in the article.