- 15 Aug 08, 02:00 PM GMT
The butcher was a little bemused when I asked him to wrap the chicken breasts in greaseproof paper but said "yes of course" and went to get some sheets from a hook on the wall.
I had brought my own just in case, as I wasn't sure butchers even used paper any more.
He confirmed that plastic sheets and bags had been in use for at least 20 years but said that he would still sometimes wrap a joint in paper.
I got some minced beef which he parcelled up in the same way, with a warning that I should transfer it to a container when I got home so it didn't dry out.
So I made sure I used the mince that evening and put the chicken straight in the freezer as letting meat (especially beef) go off is not only expensive, it is environmentally wasteful because of the amount of resources required in raising the animal.
Meat packs bought from a supermarket shelf last longer than those from a butcher's counter because they are contained in "modified atmosphere packaging" in which some or all of the oxygen from air is replaced with carbon dioxide and nitrogen.
This inhibits rotting and bacterial growth and means the meat has a longer shelf life.
Some producers also use vacuum packaging for meat which slows the rate at which it goes off by removing all the air.
Buying my meat from butcher was more expensive than grabbing some packs from the supermarket but the quality was very high.
The editor of the Meat Trades Journal, Ed Bedington, said that while the number of high street independent butchers had fallen dramatically in the past 30 years, the decline appeared to have levelled off and customers appreciated a good butcher.
"The key reason that butchers have kept in business is if they are good. If they have great service, top quality and a good choice of products then they have survived."
Mr Bedington added that the number of farm shops where farmers sold direct to the customer was growing fast, raising the choice for rural shoppers.
But back to my plastic tally. This week I have accumulated:
- 1 litre bottle of milk as the doorstep delivery didn't turn up (the dairy have apologised and say I should receive my order tomorrow).
- 1 lid from a jar of chilli sauce - I had already started cooking when I realised that the jar had a plastic "overlid" which contained the spice mix powder.
- 1 small piece of plastic wrapping from the head of the wooden toothbrush.
- 4 crown caps from bottles of beer. I was interested to read comment #42 from Oceaneer in Australia on this post who said that the plastic from this type of cap gets eaten by marine life who mistake it for young jellyfish.
- Several sheets of sticky clothes-cleaning paper on a tear-off roll. This was needed because I put a couple of nappies in with a dark wash - big mistake, everything came out covered in a fine layer of white fluff.
- 11 disposable nappies made with bio-plastic. Mainly used at nursery although they have now offered to use the cloth nappies. Plus, to my complete surprise, I managed to get the wool nappy to work. My son looks like he's wearing a Victorian bathing costume but he has had 100% dry nights in it so far.
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