Category Archives: shopping

a smell worse than skunk

How lovely to shop at a farmers’ market and buy peaches and green beans fresh from the farm — how icky to bring the produce into my kitchen and notice an awful stink! It is coming from the plastic bags that the farm stand provides handily just above the bins of appetizing fruits and vegetables.

The bags themselves make me sick to my stomach if I keep them around very long, so twice or three times I have quickly emptied whatever it is into a different (reused) bag, and taken the disgusting plastic with its smell directly outside to the garbage can or recycling bin.

What on earth is in these bags that can make them reek much worse than an old garbage truck? It reminds me of the horrible stuff you can get to use systemically on rosebushes to prevent bugs and diseases.

On every successive trip to that market, I have completely forgotten about the bags until I’m already loading one with beans again! Tonight when I got home I held my nose and took some pre-disposal pictures. Then I checked out the URL.

The only grocery bags listed on this website http://www.xo16.com are made in China, but the bags say they are made in the U.S.A.

I think it was at Trader Joe’s in San Francisco that I was given similarly odiferous bags that advertised themselves as completely compostable; printing on the bag instructed me to re-use the bag and then when I was finished with it to put it in my yard waste bin. (In my county, however, we are not allowed to do this.)

Why would I want to carry around a bag that makes me smell like a toxic waste facility? There are plenty of bad smells around on the earth without me contributing more by being that Green, and after all, a significant aspect of our environment is olfactory. Many people these days would like it if we all went perfume-less. Would they really be o.k. with everyone toting their anti-perfume around town as they did their errands?

Somehow it didn’t occur to me to talk to the farmers about the offensive bags. I did find that at the other end of the table, above the peppers, they offered a traditional bag that now seems innocuous by comparison. So next time I will try to avoid the sickening ones, maybe bring paper bags from home to weigh my beans in, and I will be bold enough to ask the farmers if they aren’t bothered by that foul smell?

After I had removed the bags from the house, the stench still clung to my hands, but thank goodness I had just opened a bottle of geranium-infused soap at the kitchen sink. I lathered up and the air began to smell like flowers. Now everything is nice here again, and I can end this post on a sweet note, in the category of Things I Like.

Maui Diary 5 – Longs Lives!


Who knew that one of the pleasures of being on a Hawaiian island would be re-connecting with one’s old favorite drugstore? Longs Drugstores used to be plentiful all over the West, but a few years ago they were sold to CVS Pharmacy. Only in Hawaii were they allowed to keep their old name. We noticed that they kept way more than that.

The Longs stores where our family shopped for decades were unique among chains that we knew of in that they kept a local flavor, perhaps by letting the lower management have more control.

I admit that I didn’t fully appreciate the stores until they were gone and I was left with only more bland chains to choose among if I wanted something smaller than Wal-Mart. All of those stores still seem equally disorganized to me and irritating to shop in.

On Maui, the Longs store was just a few paces down the road from our condo. The first time we shopped there, laying in some supplies that we hadn’t brought with us, I reveled in all of the souvenirs, Asian snacks, and a whole aisle devoted to Kona coffee and macadamia nuts.

I saw more Asian snacks than I’ve ever seen in my local market that carries nothing but Asian foods, and I got carried away taking pictures of the vast collection of exotic concoctions.

The names of the items are hard to read even if you click to get the large photo, so I’ll just tell you that in addition to packages of the more common rice crackers and wasabi pea snacks, there were bags of pickled apricot, fried cuttlefish rings and dried cuttlefish legs, dried mango and banana chips, and lemon peel both wet and dried. I love lemon, but neither of those lemony snacks appealed to me. Many items with only Hawaiian or other foreign names filled out the array.

I was awfully excited to find really cheap re-usable carry-out bags with not only the Longs name but also the Hawaii symbols of turtle and hibiscus — it seems my heart was longing for just such a souvenir to bring home.

At first I also thought that the Asian snacks were going to come in really handy to keep around during our vacation, but when I read the labels for a few minutes it turned out that almost all of them contained MSG or aspartame or both, so I only bought a fairly simple food that fit with the island theme: dried coconut.

dried coconut