Wednesday, July 29th– EO Group B
Last week, Willy St. Coop called and asked if I was interested in a bunch of organic peaches to give to our pigs. The coop had over-bought for a sale and now they had about 800 pounds of organic California peaches that were about to go bad. A staff member who knew we keep a few pigs called us to see if we could keep them out of the dumpster. Prevent waste, use food to make more food, and make my little pigs super happy? You bet.
So instead of the usual empty van that comes back from the coop delivery, a van full of peaches came back. After ourselves and the crew salvaged a couple for personal consumption, I drove the van down to the pig pen and began to feed the pigs.
Did you know that pigs’ tails wag? Just like a dogs’ do. Usually the brown pig wags his tail when I go down to feed them, but this time all three of them were wagging their little stubby tails. They were in sugar heaven!
I fed the pigs half the peaches in the evening, and then the other half in the morning. Fuzzy mold doesn’t bother them in the least. And as for the pits? I think they must have swallowed them whole. No pits remain, but I never once heard them chewing on them. Happy pigs. Thanks, Willy Street.
The one thing I didn’t anticipate when I accepted the peaches was just how long it would take to get them all out of their packaging! Each box had exactly 34 peaches inside; 2 layers of 17. Each layer of peaches was underlined with a black molded plastic sheet, with little cups to hold each peach. In between each layer there was a soft, absorbent recycled paper pillow-pack. On top of the top layer was white plastic packing material. The box that held the peaches was made of super heavy duty cardboard, three-ply thick on the short sides of the box.
There was SO much packaging! With the peaches traveling all the way on a truck from California, all the packaging was logical for something as bruise-able as a peach. However, the time it took me to handle all of this waste and sort it for trash and recycling, it was so much I almost regretted accepting the peaches at all. And if I, an environmentally conscious organic farmer, didn’t want to deal with all the waste… well I just can’t imagine the amount of rotting boxes of peaches that just get tossed into a dumpster in grocery stores across the country.
The whole experience quickly made me feel pretty sad about the whole state of industrial agriculture. I mean peaches are great, right. But at what point do we decide that picking peaches under-ripe, packaging them like crazy, gassing them with ethylene to ripen them, and sending them across the country in trucks isn’t the most logical thing to do? Not to mention growing peaches in California in the first place…
Sigh. So much more work to be done.
I have decided to chalk up this whole peach, pig, and packaging affair as just another great reason to support local agriculture. Yes we do still have to package some things, like strawberries and bags of beans, but for the most part local agriculture is way light on packaging. We harvest into crates; pack into your CSA b0xes; and you unpack into a bag of your own. No 3-ply cardboard, plastic molds; or paper pillows necessary.
Enjoy your local, organic, packaging-lite veggies!
Mike, Cassie, kiddos and crew