Eat Drink Better

Published on March 11th, 2008 | by Sharon Troy


Looking Closer at Food: Extreme Overpackaging

Reading a recent Eat. Drink. Better. post on looking deeper than the organic label, I couldn’t help but think of something that happened to me a few months ago. It was a late night and I was too tired to trek out to my food co-op, so I found myself in big-name chain, Safeway.

Strolling the produce section, I saw something so absurd, I couldn’t help but pull out my camera-phone and grab a picture . Check out my photo after the jump…


The photo you see here is of the individually plastic wrapped potatoes they were selling.

That’s right, dirty root vegetables all wrapped up in a shiny package. Do people even buy single potatoes? We all know you need more than that to make mashed potatoes. What makes the over-packaging even more grossly ridiculous is that if you look at the label, you can see that these spuds are organic.

I can just imagine how many people brought a bag of these home, thinking they were doing a great thing for the environment. It just goes to show, that you can’t rely on simply checking one label to know for sure how eco-friendly a product is.

As a vegan, that’s something I often remind myself. It isn’t always enough to simply scan the ingredients for animal products. Food comes with quite the history. We should always remind ourselves to look closer.

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About the Author

Sharon began working as Green Options' Office Manager, and has gone on to wear many hats, working also as Intern Coordinator, Editor, and Social Media Coordinator. In the GO office, she is perhaps best known as the founder and chef for the weekly "Soup Day." Prior to working with Green Options, Sharon earned a BA in Humanities from New College of California, and worked in the nonprofit arts and education sector. A vegetarian for seven years, and vegan for nearly three, Sharon has a bit of an obsession for plant-based food. When she's not hanging out in the bulk aisle of her local food co-op, Sharon is at home, trying to grow hydroponic basil, playing with her white fluffy cat, or annoying her neighbors by singing showtunes.

12 Responses to Looking Closer at Food: Extreme Overpackaging

  1. I saw that at our local chain grocery and almost vomited.

  2. Sharon Troy says:

    Gah, I was hoping it was only my grocery store. This means they’re everywhere!

  3. Jennifer R says:

    I’ve seen other organic veggies iverpackaged as well – kiwis and tomatoes in a styrofoam tray and then saran wrapped. It seems so contrary.

  4. Rachel M. says:

    This is the most distressing picture I’ve seen today.

  5. Sharon Troy says:

    Jennifer, I know exactly what you’re talking about. I hate when I see these 3-packs of tomatoes, right next to all the loose ones. I think it’s some kind of marketing ploy. We’ve come to believe that packaged food = convenience. Even if you’re getting the exact same product.

  6. Gavin Hudson says:

    Great article. Thanks for bringing this up. I can’t believe that they’re actually prepackaged potatoes… individually!

    It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. It always irritated me when I would walk into Trader Joes (especially here, but also other grocery stores) and see vegetables pre-chopped and pre-packaged in styrofoam and plastics.

    Vegetables come in their own packaging.

  7. OT says:

    If you hate excess packaging, don’t go to Japan, where supermarkets often wrap individual tomatoes and eggs (seriously!).

  8. Melody says:

    …these potatoes are individually wrapped so that they can be steamed in the microwave for a fast meal that still uses healthy, fresh potatoes.

    You may find it excessive, but it’s a whole lot healthier than sodium and additive filled instant mashed potatoes.

  9. Canvass shopping bags are a good thing, far better than paper or plastic. However, I send a doubly-strong message when I shop. I take my purchases WITHOUT BAGS 90%+ of the time. People glance at me sideways but I reduce waste, reduce oil consumption, reduce deforestation and reinforce the point that the food’s extreme packaging already is overdone.

  10. Samm. says:

    wow, that’s so.. not convenient.

  11. Ella says:

    Sooo true! I’m doing a project on overly packaged food!!! Great help! Why would anyone individually wrap EGGS???? I mean seriously! Don’t go to turkey where you can buy a plastic box filled with individually packed “Home made” cup cakes!!!!! Sheesh!

  12. Ella says:


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