Category Archives: Fat Saturday

Saturdays are reserved exclusively for food related features, because we’re all people and we all eat food. Find out what to eat, what not to eat, and why you should or should not be eating it. How to cook it. Where to get it. Why you need it. Right here on E.Y.

The Real Peel

The wasteful-food-packaging nazi I am, I consider it my responsibility to report on this atrocity. Whole Foods, famous for their mission and commitment to sustainability, have failed us, disgustingly. Their crime: Peeling oranges, just to repackage them in plastic boxes.

The grossness of this offense comes second only to the 2012 social media meltdown of German grocer Billa, who went so far as to pre-peel bananas and rewrap their delicate, browning, exposed interiors inside of cellophane-sealed styrofoam trays, meatslab style.

But the silver lining on these tragedies is how they were received by social media. The public put these companies on blast. Fast. The action taken to correct the crime was as immediate, in both cases, as the outrage spreading virally online. So rest assured, any future packaging catastrophes will be promptly put to rest, and justice will be served, in the timeless form of public humiliation, so long as we have social media.

Water

Until recently, all water ever was to me was an ingredient in coffee. Or tea. Or something to wash things with. Or something to swim in and / or drown in. Or something to admire while it falls out of the sky. Certainly not something to drink straight. What are we, animals?

Raw, colorless, flavorless, odorless, might-as-well-be-empty water. What the fuck. Why even bother? Surely juice or milk or coffee are exponentially better alternatives. Or alcohol, depending on your agenda. As a barista, nothing pains me more than when a customer walks in for nothing but a bottle of water. It’s the ultimate insult to me, the magician, the potions master behind the counter, concocting water into coffee, to serve somebody unadulterated H2O that will never live to brew a single coffee bean.

But all my life, adults have told me to drink water, like my life depends on it. And all my life, people around me just keep inexplicably sipping plain water for no apparent reason. It’s like some really elaborate practical joke that everybody’s in on. And it’s beginning to get out of hand. Just look at the state of the drought on the west coast. And I read somewhere that humans are mostly made of water, but anyone can see that’s bullshit. For one thing, if I were mostly water, what’s to stop me spilling all over the floor? And if two thirds of me is made of any fluid, it’s obviously coffee.

But during a routine complaint about my chronic lack of energy, migraines and / or indigestion, etcetera / [insert-other-generic-symptom-here], it occurred to me that maybe the problem has been my refusal to drink water, all along. It suddenly became clear as, say, a glass of water, that maybe I’ve just been dehydrated for years. I sweat and bleed coffee. Maybe it’s time I try this mysterious invisible substance.

Agua
the daunting (reusable!) glass of liquid torture that stands between me and my coffee every morning

So since last week, for every cup of coffee, I must first consume an equal size serving of water. And although it’s been a real bitch to kick my strictly-coffee-only habit, it was a worthy change to force myself to make. I’m no doctor, and I can’t definitively promise you that water will cure you of anything, but it certainly can’t hurt you. In the short time I’ve been on the stuff, I’ve noticed changes in my skin, my tummy problems have perhaps slightly improved, and most of all, I’ve been more energized. I find this ironic. Water wakes me up better than coffee. Maybe my caffeine tolerance has grown too high, but unlike coffee, water doesn’t hit me with a crash a couple hours later that leaves me narcoleptic / comatose in public places.

But health benefits aside, my commitment to earn a cup of coffee only as a reward for an equal portion of water has attached a conscious action to an automatic habit of having another cup of coffee, and another, and another, which is easy to do behind the counter handling an unlimited supply. But now, I’ve become all too aware of how much coffee I actually consume, and I’ve been forced to pace myself. There is such a thing as too much coffee. Just ask my friend Eugene what happened to his intestines after eight consecutive shots of espresso. Coffee is a drug, just like any other, and you can overdose, indeed.

So if you’ve been neglecting your recommended water intake, as I have, just drink it. If clean drinking water is available to you, be thankful that you have it. Filter it. Fill a reusable water bottle with it. I use glass jars and a metal water bottle, with lids that seal. Whatever you do, don’t waste unnecessary plastic. Make some room in your routine to wash your coffee down with water. Or chase each shot of booze with an even fatter shot of water. Your body is a garden. Water it if you want it to bloom.

Bring Your Own

You know when you go out to dinner and order an entree the size of a child because you’re super hungry, but you only end up eating maybe half, so you decide to wrap up whatever’s left and take it home with you for later, because you don’t want to be wasteful. Well, as noble as you were not to waste the food you didn’t finish, your efforts to eliminate your waste were ultimately fruitless, once you factor in the heap of single-use foil and plastic that was used to wrap your food.

Last weekend at work, my coworker / close friend Radhika confessed a crime we’ve all been guilty of at times. “You won’t believe it, Dakota,” she said. This was her story (maybe not verbatim, but here’s the gist):

“Yesterday, I ordered sushi next door for lunch, as usual. Six cucumber rolls, some ginger and wasabi, and soy sauce, of course. I took it to go. It cost less than five dollars and took me less than five minutes to eat, and I walked less than twenty feet to eat it. The entire meal could fit in my hand, and yet, after I finished, I was left with the plastic box the sushi came in, two plastic ginger containers, one plastic container for wasabi, two plastic packets of soy sauce, single-use wooden chopsticks and the paper they were wrapped in, napkins, and the bag all of it came in. There was more plastic than there was sushi.”

A lot of damage for a less-than-five-minute / less-than-five-dollar / less-than-twenty-feet-take-away meal.

The guilt was all too real for Radhika, but most people don’t think twice about the amount of waste we use to move our food around. Especially when all those items could have been replaced with reusable ones. So I went to the Japanese dollar store, one of my guilty pleasures, and supplied my sushi-fiending friend the reusable versions of all the items she listed wasting on her favorite lunch. And we got sushi. It was waste-free, guilt-free and delicious. Here’s what it looked like.Containers

sushi for two
Sushi for two
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My lunch date, Radhikadabra, radiating beauty and sustainability

And all I had to do was make room in my bag for just a little bit more crap, and ask the man taking my order at the sushi place to please use my own containers for our food. I told him which containers were for which items, asked if they would fit, and voila. No waste. We ate, rinsed our containers, and threw nothing away. It tastes better that way. Savor the taste of zero-waste, today. Here’s how:

Before leaving your house, ask yourself if you might a) stop for groceries, or b) go out somewhere to eat / pick up a beverage or food to go. Then pack accordingly.

If you might be picking up groceries, bring your own reusable shopping bags and reusable produce bags.

If you know you’re going to stop for coffee / tea / a smoothie, bring your own cup.

If you might be going out to eat, chances are, you’re going to take some leftovers to go. Bring your own to-go containers. I use glass containers with airtight, snappy lids so liquid contents don’t leak all over my shit. I bought microwave-safe ones so I can just open it up and nuke it later in the same container, so I don’t have to dirty an extra dish.

If you’ve ever worked in the food service industry, you’ve probably enjoyed the exhilarating task of rolling roll-ups, or sets of forks, knives and spoons (optional) rolled up in napkins. Bring your own roll-ups for snacks and meals on the go, including whatever utensils you may need and a hand towel, a cloth one, so you can wash and reuse all of the above.

If you’re hosting or attending a dinner at your or someone else’s home, bring or provide your own set of to-go containers, enough for everyone attending, to distribute leftovers for guests to bring home with them, so no food and no food-wrap-or-containers go to waste.

It may sound like a hassle, but if one extra step is what it takes to make this world a cleaner place, isn’t it worth it? Remember bringing your lunch box to school as a kid? Why did we stop? It’s not like we stopped eating lunch. So if you eat lunch, bring your own box.

Whatever you would be wasting, don’t. Bring your own.

Banana Split

First, she came for our bees. Now she’s back for our bananas. But what we repeatedly fail to see is we’re the ones she’s really after. Mother Nature’s making it personal, by killing off our most precious resources first, so she can watch us writhe and suffer and eventually die in a world devoid of flavor, nourishment and everything we ever loved. Not unlike God, after creating humans, the cherry on top of the beautiful garden he cultivated. Before he realized how badly he’d fucked up and decided to start over by mopping up the mess he’d made, AKA the holy flood.

Except unlike God and the flood, what we perceive as attacks by Mother Nature are indirectly our own doing. Just like when Mama used to take your toys away. You had to give her a reason to. You were probably misusing them. Maybe you were being too possessive of them. Perhaps you weren’t taking proper care of them. In any case, you were being naughty, and Mama had to teach you a lesson. Maybe we can have our bananas back if we learn our’s.

So what might that lesson be? I’m glad you asked.

The banana you know and love today is inferior in every way to the ones our parents and / or grandparents knew and loved a half a century ago. The Gros Michel, or Big Mike, as it was called—better-tasting and longer-lasting than today’s banana—was the world’s banana of choice until the mid-1900s. It was the standing champion of all bananas for decades of export and distribution, until it was struck by Mother Nature’s first blow to the groin of the industry. The Panama Disease.

The deadly fungus wiped out our beloved better-banana and left us only with a shittier runner-up. The Cavendish, another cultivar of the same fruit, which is inadequate in every way except for its immunity to Panama disease. Granted, it’s still delicious and one of the most-consumed crops across the globe. So we proceeded to breed a global monoculture of Cavendish bananas, when we should have been breeding  more genetic variation, on the off chance that the Panama Disease adapts a new, more deadly strain that threatens the one and only banana we grow.

Which is exactly what predictably has happened. The “second coming” of the fungus, known today as TP4, has already swept across South-east Asia and is spreading fast. Containing the fungus is unrealistic, considering it spreads naturally in storms. Facing the imminent death of the Cavendish banana, we must determine an alternative.

Knowing, as I do, nothing about the breeding of bananas or parthenocarpy or any of that genetic crap, I’m in no place to determine or even speculate such an alternative. But someone better. And surely, someone will, but depending on who, and how, I have my doubts about the soundness of whatever solution might eventually be proposed. Nature already gave us a second chance with the Cavendish after we fucked up the Gros Michel, by relying globally on a single genetic variation of our favorite fruit. And what did we do? The same exact thing. Round two. And what happened to our second-chance banana? The same exact thing.

So surely the answer is to breed more variations of bananas, so if one strain falls victim to the plague, we will have others to replace it. Easier said than done, I’m sure. I always sucked at biology, but the psychic in me foresees a looming opportunity for Monsanto. Genetic modification of food is another dangerous game we like to play, that’s already costing us some of our favorite toys. Take corn, for instance. Go try to buy some genetically unaltered corn. Good luck. Genetically modified corn threatens to dominate and wipe out natural varieties, because it’s bred to be superior. Survival of the fittest. (Or at least that’s as far as my limited and somewhat abstract understanding of GMOs can conceive.) How long before No-GMO is no no longer an option? How long before Mother Nature takes all our original toys away? How many times does the banana have to split before it’s gone forever?

Imagine it. A life with no bananas. No more banana bread. No more banana splits. No more banana milkshakes. No more banana pancakes. Jack Johnson’s famous hit. Every cartoon character that’s ever slipped on a banana peel. Every dick joke that’s been born from this gorgeous, phallic fruit. All meaning will be lost on future generations, born into a sad, cold, potassium-deficient world.

Now imagine the opposite. Imagine a world full of bananas as diverse as man and their dicks. Bananas of all varieties of size and shape and color. Subtle differences of texture and taste. Where before there was only one, there would be a menu of options. A breeding ground of creativity for culinary geniuses. And me, devouring their new creations.

As I said before, I’m no expert on genetic bio- banana stuff. And I’m no psychic either, as much as I may delude myself to be. Ultimately, I’m just a blogger, and a lover of bananas, and I just want you to know that they’re in trouble. And just to drill my message in a little deeper, here’s some internet-wisdom to remind you just how much you love bananas, and how sad you’d be to see them go.

When men are staring at you while you’re eating a banana..

Posted by WTF did i just watch?

Last Meal

NoDeadAnimals

Sometimes, I like to get away from people. Sometimes I like to hike in the woods, or dip in the ocean, and be alone in the natural world, untouched by the reckless, destructive hands of other humans. Naturally, animals like doing these things, too. So on the off chance that one day I become a meal for a hungry critter passing by, I just want it to be known, for the record, that my dying wish is for the animal who ate me to go free, and not be euthanized.

I’ve fallen victim of no such snacking, so far, but I say this now because if and when I do, I’ll be in no condition to espress this dying wish after the fact. Cause I’ll be dead. So if it happens, I just want you all to know I am at peace with the circumstances of my passing. The animal who ate me was right to do so. The animal was hungry, and I was delicious. Plus, I’m the dumbass who wandered alone into the wild. Not your land. Not my land. The shared, free land we all inhabit.

The animal who ate me only did what the universe put it here to do: Survive. Sometimes, surviving involves eating. You and I both know this. This shouldn’t come as news. This is Fat Saturday, for fuck’s sake. A day reserved exclusively for food-related news.

People eat to survive. Some people eat animals. Animals eat to survive. Sometimes, animals eat people. It’s called the circle of fucking life. It’s only fair. So whether I die in the jaws of a shark or the claws of a grizzly bear, let the record show that the animal who took my life is not at fault. Don’t let it  pay for my life with its own. Don’t make me the killer. Don’t make me responsible for the death of an innocent being. Having gone my whole life (so far) without murdering anyone, it would be a real bummer to discover my final act on this earth resulted in a murder, compromising the clean record I’ve worked my whole life to maintain. Should my body be an animal’s last meal, you can rest assured that justice was NOT served.

In fact, dying to feed a hungry wild beast comes second only to dying warm and cozy in my bed of old age. I want to die doing what I love, seeing the world, exploring the wild. When I die, I want my body returned to earth as soon as possible. Being digested and shit out by a family of bears would certainly speed up this process. And if I’m dying anyway, why not make a meal out of it? Feeding the hungry would be a noble way to go.

Lastly, I just want to remind you all the land you walk, the body you walk in, and the life you live are borrowed. Not owned. Not unlike the food you eat. Humans live by their own rules of possession, entitlement, justice, right and wrong, but at the end of the day, we die by nature’s rules. If you can hunt an animal, an animal can sure as fuck hunt you. Don’t think you call the shots just because you hold the gun.

Wes Side Story

Living in suburban Redwood City, as I do, I’m under constant fire from my neighbors for parking in front of their houses, or picking their oranges, unforgivable offenses my neighbors refuse to tolerate. They typically attack with angry notes left on my windshield or gate, and the occasional nail gun to my tires, anything to avoid a direct confrontation. All but one of my neighbors have proven to be total dicks. All but Camel-puffing, hoodie-wearing Wes, the one and only neighborly neighbor I’ve yet to encounter on my block.

The pile of oranges anonymously left for me by my neighbor Wes, minus the three I've already eaten
The pile of oranges anonymously left for me by my neighbor Wes, minus the three I’ve already eaten

One of the most frustrating conundrums of my neighborhood has always been the oranges. I don’t even like oranges. I’ve always disliked them, since my childhood when I once unknowingly swallowed and choked on a couple seeds. I’ve avoided oranges ever since. Plus, I just don’t like oranges. But my neighborhood is full of orange trees. And one summer day, I was getting dehydrated on the long trek home from downtown and resorted to an orange out of sheer desperation. It was delicious, and more importantly, it was seedless.

I stalked my neighborhood, in hot pursuit of oranges, scoping out which trees were within reach of the sidewalk and taste-testing samples from each one for quality. Some were a bust, but other were just as yummy and seedless as the first, and none more so than the ones at Wes’s house, two doors down from mine. The conundrum of the oranges is that all of them reside, uneaten and untouched, teasing me from the private property of the neighbors who protect those wasted oranges with their lives.

Except for Wes. Among the many oranges I’ve stolen, I’ve also come up on a shopping basket from my local Safeway, which has come in very handy hauling other stolen goods. One morning, just over a year ago, I knocked on the neighbor’s door, basket in hand, oranges on branch, and Wes answered. I asked if I could pick some oranges. He said, “Sure, help yourself.”

This was probably the first time these three words were uttered on my street. And help myself, I did. I filled that basket.

Anyway, the other day, I received an anonymous bag of the best oranges on the Wes Coast, and I know who they’re from, and this is just to espress my thanks to Wes for being a good person in a sea of fucking assholes. He even apologized that one time his step-dad left a mean note on my car.

It’s that easy. If you’re a fucking asshole with an orange tree, ask yourself, would you really rather see that good fruit fall and rot on your front lawn than see the smile you could put on someone’s face if you would share? Wes may not be rich or famous, but he’s a good neighbor, and that’s more than a lot of Americans can say for themselves. Thank you, Wes. Hope you don’t mind I shared your story.

Be The Change

This year, I’m wishing Merry Christmas to my customers at Summit Coffee by walking my talk and giving the gift of sustainability. In the spirit of Gandhi, and Summit Coffee, I’m being the change I wish to see in this world by forcing reusable plastic travel mugs on all our regulars.BeTheChangeI love the coffee shop I work at, and I’m proud to caffeinate Redwood City’s finest coffee fiends, but I would be prouder without the hundreds of paper cups and plastic lids we fill our trashcans with. I’m just as responsible for contributing hundreds of paper cups as our customers are. If I want the world to be more sustainable about consuming coffee, I can’t wait for everyone else to decide to switch to travel mugs. I, the barista, have to be the change. If I don’t want to see to-go cups go to waste, it’s my job to refuse to waste them. It’s my responsibility to offer an alternative. So I’m converting customers to travel mugs, one cup of coffee at a time.QueenOfCupsThis marks the first year of a hopefully lifelong tradition I plan to carry to my future coffee shop. Most coffee shops offer some kind of customer loyalty reward, but why not reward regular customers with a free reusable travel mug? They’re the ones who come in every day. Sure, it’s not cheap. It’s an investment. Just think of the money you’ll save on the long-run on hundreds of single-use to-go cups. Just think of the business your commitment to sustainability will bring you. Just think of the waste your coffee shop won’t be contributing. One person behind the counter in one coffee shop touches the lives of hundreds of customers every day. It’s that easy to make a difference.

edroLargeDecafMediumLatteAdorableAlmondSoyLatteJamesRobertoPickingUpForWifeMeleLouSmallCoffeeSumitViceMayorRWCFatherDaughterJessAmigoOnTheGoCupsTheBoyzTheUsualsTheBoysIf you want to see a change in this world, you have to be the change. So be it.

Give the Gift of Sustainability

Gift-giving is always a gamble. There’s no guarantee the person receiving your gift will like or use it. You’re just giving them the option, if they want it. So take advantage of this solid opportunity to force unwanted crap on somebody you love to supply them with the tools they need, should they decide to utilize them, to make this world a better place for all of us, one meal / beverage at a time. Let your present double as a present to this planet, and by extension to yourself, by giving the gift of sustainability.

New parents describe their babies as eating, shitting machines, but to my knowledge, adults carry right on eating and shitting just the same. The only difference is adults have more responsibilities to tend to in between shitting and eating. Feeding ourselves is a lifelong commitment, and requires all kinds of equipment. Dishes, cups, utensils, containers to store leftover food, bags to haul our groceries home, etcetera. More and more of these materials are being produced for single use. To-go cups. Fast food packaging. “Disposable” serving utensils and shopping bags.

But there’s no such thing as “disposable.” Diverting garbage to the dumps so we don’t see it doesn’t make it disappear. We can’t sweep our waste under the rugs forever. We’re running out of rugs. All we can do now is reduce our waste in any way we can, and there are many ways we can, all of which would make for awesome gifts. This year, your holiday shopping list should look something like this:

 

TRAVEL MUG

As a barista, the coffee shop I work at doles out hundreds of paper cups each day to customers taking their coffee to-go. And even if the cups are compostable, realistically, only a fraction of them will be composted. The majority will likely wind up in the garbage, and a fair amount are fated to be litter. And that’s just one coffee shop. Multiply that by all the coffee shops combined and all the days that they’ve been open. That’s a lot of coffee cups.

An individual who drinks at least one cup of coffee every day contributes at least 365 paper cups every year. Reduce this number to one by investing in a cup that’s built for infinite refills, one cup to do the work of hundreds. Behold, the mighty travel mug.

And like your loved ones, and unlike plain white paper cups (or even worse, the dreaded #RedStarbucksCups), travel mugs come in all varieties of color, shape and size. Handle. No handle. Any material. Ceramic, for the folks who forget about their coffee until it’s cold and need to nuke it. Metal or plastic for gravitationally challenged folks who have yet to fully grasp the art of holding onto things.

Color, design and prints are also solid opportunities to espress what makes that person special—their interests or favorite animals. Note: whatever words or images are printed on your loved one’s travel mug will be their constant companion, staring back at them every morning from across their desk, or warming their hands while they step outside for a coffee break, or whatever their morning ritual may be. So keep in mind, whatever message is embedded in the graphic of their travel mug better be something they’d like to look at.

And whatever you do, don’t get a travel mug from Starbucks.

Last year, I asked for travel mugs for Christmas, and my Mama faithfully delivered. She’s a huge supporter of artists on Etsy, so I picked out a few. Here they are in action:

Ceramic Travel Mugs by Bread & Badger

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D$ and $WAGZ rocking matching Bread&Badger Travel Mugz
D$ and $WAGZ rocking matching Bread&Badger Travel Mugz

My roommate was so inspired by the cuteness of my mugs she felt so moved to order a few of her own. Check out our matching travel mugs. Super adorbs.

Ceramic Travel Mugs by SewZinski

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REUSABLE COFFEE SLEEVE

The reusable coffee sleeve goes hand in hand with your loved one’s new travel mug. However, if travel mugs are out of your price range, reusable coffee sleeves serve as a more affordable alternative. If a paper to-go cup must be used, at the very least, saving a sleeve every day makes a difference. Also, another opportunity to a) support an artist by buying one, or b) get crafty and sew your own.

 

LOOSE LEAF TEA INFUSER

Travel mugs and sleeves are not exclusively for coffee lovers. Tea drinkers are just as guilty of contributing wasted to-go cups as coffee fiends, but even worse, most tea bags are individually wrapped in what is ultimately garbage (non-recyclable wrapping). So take an extra step to convert your loved one to loose leaf tea.

Some tumblers are sold with built-in loose leaf tea infusers. Infusers are also sold individually, that are compatible with any cup. Each cup of loose leaf tea equates to one less wrapper, one less piece of trash.

 

LOOSE LEAF TEA

If you should decide to buy a loose leaf tea infuser for a loved one, you should consider pairing it with some loose leaf tea. Give them something yummy to steep in their new tea infuser.

 

REUSABLE GROCERY ACCESSORIES

I know, reusable grocery shopping bags are so last year. But two things on my shopping list this year are 1) reusable / washable produce bags to replace single-use plastic produce bags provided at the store, and 2) an assortment of reusable containers for buying groceries in bulk, and sparing the world some packaging, like these ones:

Illustration by Anna Kachelries instagram @annafaith___
Illustration by Anna Kachelries instagram @annafaith___

Maybe your loved ones won’t use your gifts. Or maybe they will. But in any case, you’re leaving the door ajar for someone to become a more sustainable, waste-conscious eating-shitting machine. Happy Fat Saturday, and Happy Holidays. Purchase responsibly.

Give What You Can

My little brother, MC Squared (right) and Ben Jammin (left) canning for their high school food drive
My little brother, MC Squared (right) and Ben Jammin (left) canning for their high school food drive

My brother spent last Sunday afternoon collecting donations outside of Safeway for his high school’s holiday canned food drive. I too was an active participant in the drive when I attended, and I still contribute in donations, as much as I can.

For such affluent shoppers, it always surprised me how slowly the cans accumulated. Many shoppers went out of their way to avoid and ignore us. Some went so far as to feign phone calls. But typically, as soon as the first cans have been planted, donations gain momentum, which always baffles me because wouldn’t an empty cart compel you more? Isn’t there more urgency in emptiness? Personally, I’d rather leave a dollar in an empty tip jar than a full one, because it makes more of a difference to someone who has nothing. But nonetheless, in my experience, this pattern has persisted year to year, with one exception.

It was my Junior year in high school, and a particularly slow shift at the Middle Ave Safeway in Menlo Park. Not for lack of shopping traffic, though. But our donation cart remained empty well into the first hour of our shift outside the automatic doors. And just as I was about to give up all hope in humanity, a woman exiting wheeled her cart toward us. She removed a single shopping bag, presumably to leave as our first donation of the night, but this woman flipped the script and kept only the bag. Instead she offered us the cart, fully loaded with non-perishable nourishment for families who need it.

So this is just to espress my thanks to this mystery woman, my hero, whoever she is, bless her generous heart. And to my brother, and Ben Jammin’, and everyone contributing their cans, and their hands and their time.

Wrap It Up—The Candy Condom Problem

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Two weeks after Halloween, the true horrors of the holiday have finally come to settle in the streets—strewn with the wreckage and debris of trick or treaters, who have long since fled the scene of their attacks, shed their disguises and swallowed what evidence remains of their neighborhood raids. However, not all evidence has been disposed of. In fact, a significant amount of it remains, scattered around the suburbs, like Willie Wonka’s ashes.

Candy wrappers have come to rest in every crevice, every crack in every sidewalk, and congested every storm-drain. Whatever waste didn’t drain to the bay in Monday’s rain now occupies the sidewalks, driveways, gardens, lawns and parks of Redwood City (where I live), as if to protest last week’s post on zero-waste consuming.

In stark contrast to the packaging-free grocery store in Germany I reported on last Saturday, as usual, the USA dedicates one day a year to celebrate the core and fundamental values and customs of this country—over-consumption, excessive waste, obesity and greed. Scary, indeed. Every October 31, children nationwide take to the streets, armed with empty bags to fill, and fill them they do. And the dumps and landfills too.

Dare we try to quantify the damage? Let’s do some mental math. How many households do you think participate in Halloween? Many of which supply several bags of candy. How many assorted bags in all were purchased on behalf of Halloween? How many individual “treats” does that amount to? Each one individually wrapped. How many candy wrappers had to be produced to satisfy the national demand? I honestly have no idea, but you can bet it isn’t zero. A far cry from the waste-free lifestyle that I described last Saturday.

Yet we persist this wasteful custom year to year. Even our holidays and family traditions have evolved to represent the wickedness of our ways—selfishness, entitlement, immediate gratification… Children marching house to house demanding candy, expecting it, and worse yet, receiving it. Their greeting is misleading: “Trick or Treat?” It’s a command under the pretense of a question. We reward them, and for what? Even my dog has to do a trick to earn a treat.

Dare I say (of course I do) conditioning our children in this way just cultivates an expectation of getting exactly what we want from strangers who don’t owe us anything, and has already manifested a sense of entitlement in my and prior generations. Just look at Elliot Rodger, or the Christian outcry for a more Christmas-specific Starbucks cup, as if the Christmas color scheme isn’t exclusive enough. Just look at all those little shits on leashes pretending to be kids that are actually just tantrum-throwing “Gimme-more!” machines, the spoiled seedlings of future consumers and budding CEOs of future corporations. Rapists.

But I digress. Halloween can’t be held accountable for our entitlement and arrogance. However, our holidays have been persistent perpetrators and purveyors of waste—Halloween candy wrappers, wrapping paper, chocolate Valentines—the list goes on. The US has a compulsive packaging obsession, and it’s about time we address it.

Next year, you’ll find me handing out kiwis, oranges and bananas, pre-packaged as they are in natural wrappers, 100% compostable, not to mention considerably more nutritious than a Snickers, and arguably even more delicious. I won’t be very popular, no doubt. No problem. More for me. And whatever I can’t finish, I’ll feed to the worms, and spare the landfills.