Large single cucumbers are always wrapped in plastic because the thin skin is prone to rehydration. The plastic wrap serves an extension of 10 days in our refridgerators compared to without the wrap. Additionally, our grocery stores get many imported English cucumbers with thin skin instead of the American cucumbers that can withstand more force and temperature changes.
During the grocery store audit, Freshco and Sobeys carried 3 different brands that used biodegradable boards for the cukes (baby cucumbers), whereas Fortinos that is owned by Loblaw with a sub-brand of P.C and Carrousel heavily wrapped the cukes in plastic. Toppview Farms also had a non-recyclable board.
Through email, I expressed my appreciation of the 100% recyclable cardboard used for the 6 count cukes at Erie James Farms. There are many other cukes brands such as Carrousel, President’s Choice, and Toppview Farms that do not have any recyclable material. So I asked Erie James Farms if it was a simple decision for Erie James to use the cardboard with minimal plastic packaging, and what would be your advice for other brands to follow suit?
Erie James Farms responded with:
Thank you for the compliment. It was not a hard decision to make to switch to a biodegradable tray for mini cukes. It does cost about 3 times more for the tray itself. But we feel it is worth the investment into the next generation’s future. That package happens to be our pilot into the market; and we welcome consumer feedback. We also have plans to move as much of our single use plastic packaging into some type of biodegradable material. Doing a lot of research right now. I also feel if everyone makes an effort to switch over, then the higher costs associated with changes can be reduced when packaging suppliers start getting higher volume orders for biodegradable options.
If we want to see changes in our produce packaging, it’s up to consumers that must put in the effort to email farms, and corporations to ask for more low enviromental impact packaging! Check out Erie James Farms and NatureFresh farms to support them on their (sometimes) plastic-free packaging and sustainable growing. NatureFresh farms uses coconut husks to grow the plants, and water is recirculated and reused in a closed-loop system.