(by Lisa Purdy)
When Blair, Sarah, and I were assigned to get some groceries at the nearby Central Market during our stay there, who could have foreseen The Adventure? Surely, “Austin, Texas” whispers of progressive mysticism. But somehow it magicked away four hours of the day. You see…Past the artichokes, through the enticing maze of produce selections, we arrived at the Bulk Section. Oh, the glorious Bulk Section.
Aisles and aisles of coffee, locally roasted nuts, dried fruit, exotic and household spices, freshly-ground peanut butter, along with unimaginable varieties of flour, pasta, rice, and candy. Dried mangoes and dried apricots—with and without sulfur—made nice with their neighbors, the Granolas. Every corner revealed different foods, wrapped in the naturally perfect packaging of their own selves. The specially blended granolas had only their own virtue to attract a customer, not the grace of a clever advertising department. Prunes clung together, lumping in a corner, with no happy yellow packaging to disguise their squishy homeliness. Only made ‘em more beautiful.
Around the next turn, the flours lay placidly in their clear plastic boxes, amid the wheat germ and oat bran. This aisle, to me, speaks to the potential held in “bulk”: how its no-fluff practicality encourages less packaging. Sure, it’s good for sneaking a few chocolate-covered almonds here and there, but I love how the act of scooping your own food into your own container gives maintaining your household a genuine flavor of independence. You need not be the sucker of marketing schemes; you need not be complicit in the immense consumption of packaging in the United States. ‘Cause why encourage more production of plastic and waxy paper, when you can reuse that Ziploc bag in your kitchen’s miscellaneous drawer? I heard from an executive at Stonyfield Farms (the organic yogurt company) that they’re looking into working with Whole Foods to launch a bulk yogurt section. The future gleams bright and goopy.