I’m the primary caregiver for my partner’s mother. She lives with us and there are a great many rewards, but there are also challenges. As her dementia progresses my caregiving responsibilities naturally increase. Perhaps you’ve noticed that I don’t post as much as I used to and some of my entries are less culinarily enthusiastic than they once were. In fact, I find myself taking all kinds of dinnertime shortcuts that at one time seemed unthinkable to me. Which means semi-creative salads are often the compromise I make to get a meal made. Kale Salad with White Beans and Farro should be a simple dinner. However, in today’s mechanized food world dinner is rarely simple. Even salad.
Box, Bag, or Prep your Own?
That’s a question I ask myself a lot these days. That’s because there are a lot of reasons to hate those pre-washed salad greens that come in a bag. First I can’t get over the feeling that a salad in a bag is the modern version of imagination-free, single-serving TV dinners. I know they’re convenient but the waste created by the excessive packaging is a real problem for me – never mind that these little bags cost just as much as good organic, locally grown lettuce. But, if you’re the kind of person whose good intentions sometimes lead you to buy a whole drawerful of farmers market vegetables and then let them rot simply because you don’t have the time and/or energy to wash, chop, and prep all that good green stuff then I think there’s an argument to be made that more packaging waste is the trade-off for less food waste. Or is it?
Because another unappetizing fact about bagged greens is the disturbing method they use to help those leaves appear so fresh and green. Food that has been “packaged in a protective atmosphere” means that it has been “gassed” with “modified” air to extend its shelf life. So, much like the mummies of ancient Egypt, once that “protection” is compromised by opening the bag the limp leaves inside quickly catch up with their actual age and become nearly inedible within hours. Yuck…
Boxed Kale Salad with White Beans
Still. Here’s a Kale Salad with White Beans and Farro I made with baby kale leaves that come pre-packaged in a plastic clamshell box. I don’t think greens in a box are “gassed” like the bagged versions. The box isn’t airtight. But still, I wonder every time I throw the plastic box in the recycling bin if I’m doing the right thing. The thing is I’ve never seen baby kale leaves sold any other way than pre-packaged. I like all kale but I like baby kale a little better than any other type of kale. So, I tell myself, buying the box means I’ll eat kale more often. Surely that’s a win. Besides baby kale in a box still requires some creativity to make it interesting. Right?
What do you think? GREG