UK retailer Marks and Spencer have announced that they are to withdraw their product cauliflower steak from sale after they came in for criticism about the amount of packaging.
A M&S spokesperson confirmed that once the product had sold out in stores they wouldn’t be ordering in any more.
The article confirming this was posted by the Huffington post on Friday, along with criticisms of other supermarkets who sell what it believes to be over-packaged pre-prepared vegetables such as cauliflower kous-kous, broccoli rice, and diced onions.
Now, I would be the first to agree that on the whole we use far too much packaging, and I have in fact stated as much on various forms of social media, including blasting one manufacturer for packaging a pair of 42g headphones in a box and packaging which weighed approximately 900g, (unfortunately I can’t remember at this point who the manufacturer was, just in case it might be construed that I was protecting their identity.)
Where the critic has overstepped the mark however is in their further advice to consumers on how to chop and prepare your own vegetables so that you don’t have to resort to buying pre-prepared ones, including a “helpful” video to show you how to better your chopping technique.
I don’t doubt for a second that there are people who buy pre-prepared veg simply because they can and for convenience. Although if that is what works for them then who is anyone else to criticise that? However, there are also many people for whom the existence of pre-prepared vegetables is invaluable, as disabilities, co-ordination issues and other constraints which are frankly nobody’s business but theirs make it either difficult or impossible to prepare vegetables, and pre-prepared foods means the difference between being able to home cook a meal and having to resort to the ready meal option.
Telling retailers that their products are over-packaged is one thing. Telling people that they could prepare their own fruit and veg if only they watched this helpful video and brushed up on their technique is nothing more than patronising and judgemental.
Let’s be honest here, the individuals responsible for writing the article didn’t really want to talk about excessive packaging or pretentious product naming. What they really wanted to do was to pass judgement over people who buy pre-prepared fruit and veg and tell them how if only they did it “their” way they would be so much better for it. Except to write an article purely to slate the buyers of diced onions when said buyer may have difficulties which make it impossible to chop onions for themselves, and not be in a position to invest in a food processor either due to financial or space constraints doesn’t exactly show one as someone who really cares about the planet or those who live on it, so the amount of packaging was a convenient way around it with half an article of self righteous judgement thrown in for good measure.
So here’s the thing. If you disagree with the amount of packaging that supermarkets and other retailers use for their products then join the cause and protest against it.
However, if you disagree with the use of pre-prepared products such as fruit, vegetables and anything else which could be made by you personally but is available on the shelves of supermarkets for those who don’t have the ability or simply can’t be bothered, then don’t buy them. But keep your judgements of those who do to yourself. It says far more about you than it does about them.