I had always been curious as to why cucumbers at the grocery store exclusively come in plastic wrap. It seems horribly wasteful. So this week I decided to look it up.
Turns out that cucumbers, unlike many other vegetables, don’t like being in the fridge. They are wrapped in plastic because this helps them ward off damage from the cold. It minimizes the moisture on the cucumber therefore slowing decay.
So what am I to do if I want to reduce plastic waste? First I have decided that from now on, I will purchase field cucumbers (which do not have plastic wrap). I will attempt to store these at room temperature where they will last longer than in the fridge. I am not yet sure where to do this because I also read that I should not store them near bananas or tomatoes as the ethylene produced by these fruits will rot the cucumber faster. As of right now, the only foods I keep on the counter are bananas and tomatoes! So I need a new storage spot.
Google searching this topic led me to an article on how packaging is not ‘all that bad’. The discussion is based on a book called Why Shrink-wrap a Cucumber? The Complete Guide to Environmental Packaging, which I am now going to have to read. I was not entirely sold on the article’s stance that the waste from spoiled cucumbers is worse than that from the plastic shrink-wrap. I recognize that unused food is wasteful but isn’t compost waste from food always better than single use plastic waste? I am intrigued to examine the counter arguments in this book.