Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


Resolutionary Thoughts: Snacks Unwrapped & Plastic

dried apricots and hazelnuts

I’m reading the paper the other morning, oblivious to the impending New Year, when from across the room Bob asked if I had resolutions for 2010. Not yet, was my absent-minded reply. But then the brain started buzzing, independent of what I thought I wanted it to do, and it began to muse about the list I make each new year, an enumeration of intention. Flights of fancy some, and difficult or impossible to accomplish, others easy enough and will be checked off the list before December 31, 2010.

(Yes, this is a repost from 2010, but apropos again, we think. Happy New Year, 2015.)

Dried fruit and nuts

Collectively the list is biographical, a reflection of the small and large things in life that currently seem important,  a personal state of mind-ful or mind-lessness. Every year, because I love a physical thrill like zip lines or kayaking into caves, I consider putting sky diving on the list – the flying through the air part tempting, the jumping out of the plane part preposterous. And that’s the dilemma of what could vs. what will end up on a list. The exercise reveals the presence, or lack thereof, of a lifestyle yin and yang, sometimes well balanced, sometimes not. Last year’s list included tiramisu from scratch, building a stone sculpture, more dancing and writing a story. Attainable.

From out of the blue came two of this year’s nominees: nuts and plastics. (I know. Yaaaaaawn.)

*”Except for the very small amount that’s been incinerated – and it’s a very small amount – every bit of plastic ever made still exists.”

Would I like to know Dr. Oz’s Realistic Resolutions for 2010? Again, from across the room. And this time he doesn’t wait for a response, just starts to read a list from the NY Times. Commit to family night, seven minutes of yoga a day, go to bed earlier, keep nuts/healthy snacks handy, make space for sit-ups in front of the TV . . . the list goes on, but he had me at the snack, simple, sustainable, healthy nuts. Not  revolutionary, we’ve heard it a thousand times, but then the moment arrives when you’re ready to take it in. Not sexy material for the annual list, but healthwise a grand idea. Resolutionary. So, Oz, along with *Sue Casey (science writer), brought me to a couple of this year’s convictions: to drastically diminish my consumption of plastic and to increase my consumption of nuts.

And now you know this isn’t going to be a hefty food story with a recipe at the end, but a statement about a simple resolve: to snack healthfully, and, it turns out, sustainably – without the requisite specially snack sized cutely wrapped plastic containers. For me, a snack of hazelnuts (Holmquist Farms is a good Washington source), and dried apricots or our own dried plums is appealing – crunchy protein with a chewy bite of sweet fruit. Local food without excessive wrappings and trappings. The environmental trick is to buy in bulk and then make sure they’re available in the car, at the desk, in the kitchen. Despite resolve, those other snacks won’t disappear, the chips and chocolate, but diminish. I’m not completely crazy.

dried fruits and nuts snack

Inexplicably perhaps, a couple of common snack foods are off limits in my book. Peanut butter and energy bars. Never, nada, nichts. I know that it’s a culinary sin to hate peanut butter and my credibility just took a nosedive. I made a decision about peanut butter when I was four and it has held. Unless it’s baked into a cookie, forget about it. But, a simple pile of nuts (no peanuts) and dried fruit, I’m in.

And there’s no extraneous, small-portions-plastic-packaging involved. Bonus points. This is significant. Our planet is suffocating from discarded plastic. (Take a look at this site, amazing environmental/informational art,
Chris Jordan’s photographs of America’s Intolerable Beauty.) 

And here’s to un-wrapping healthy snacks in 2010 (& again in 2015.)

*The Best American Science and Nature Writing of 2007 includes a piece by Susan Casey called Plastic Ocean, which might change a person’s sensibility about buying anything at all that’s surrounded by or made of plastic. Of the plastics we commonly use and conscientiously recycle, only 3-5% are reused in any way.

“Except for the very small amount that’s been incinerated – and it’s a very small amount – every bit of plastic ever made still exists.”

“Set aside the question of why we’re creating ketchup bottles and six-pack rings that last for half a millennium and consider the implications of it: plastic never really goes away.”

Maybe we can scare ourselves into healthy unpackaged snacks. A worthy resolution. snacks unwrapped

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4 Responses »

  1. Sally, I’m not yawning at all. Nuts are great for you in so many ways, and so simple to add to our diets. The gyres are what’s frightening and vast beyond my comprehension…what have we done?!?!? I will join you in your quest to avoid plastics in all ways possible, and pray that others will do the same. Thanks for sharing the link to the article…well written and informative…I’ll share it with others. Happy New Year and am lovin’ your blog. Keep up the great work!

  2. Elaine, I know, it’s all a no-brainer and in a way worthy of a big yawn. We’ve heard it all so often. Time to pay attention for the sake of our health, the nuts, and the planet, the plastics. Thanks for support.

  3. yes, I’m trying to eat more healthy snacks this year! nuts are high on my list!

  4. I think for many of us the need to lower or completely avoid the use of plastics has been something teasing at us for a while. It grows in persuasion until one day we look at the plastic bags available for our use at the grocery store and feel something of a revolt at the thought of using them. Not seeing any paper nearby, we use them in silent disgust of ourselves but after enough of these experiences we purchase and start using a reuseable grocery bag. From there we look at plastic in a new way. Even paper suddenly has a slight menacing feeling. Reusable napkins, kitchen towels, and dare I say it… cloth diapers and a new term, ‘family cloth’. This is reuseable/ washable toilet napkins. At first repulsive to me… now I find myself extremely interested and trying to persuade my partner of it’s benefits. I find myself trying to figure out many ways in which to abandon plastics… and the old ways sit patiently waiting for a rediscovery… glass, metal, cotton, the simple things become beautiful again.