Is it the lettuce that's spoilt or maybe just us shoppers
On Monday I nipped into my local supermarket to buy a few bits and bobs for tea and ended up upgrading from a basket to a trolley and finally booking a home delivery from the check out.
Well there was the two-for-one Fajita kits, half price beans, cut-price posh coffee... on and on it went. Bargains galore.
And like everybody else, I'm a mug for them. There was a good reason for everything in the basket, even if it wasn't what I'd come for. Not like my mum who makes a list and sticks to it.
So what if you end up spending more than double what you intended? It just means more time until you need to do the next big shop. Or does it?
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Yes we've been well and truly caught out. On the very day of my supermarket sweep out came a report claiming we chuck out Everest-sized mountains of unused food every year.
Here in the West Country we bleat on about our green credentials so much outsiders would be forgiven for thinking we eat nothing but lentils, wear nothing that doesn't come from Oxfam and even recycle our own toe nails. We see ourselves as a little green corner of England.
Yet it turns out that it's a mirage, we are about as ethical as all those vegetarians who can't resist a bacon buttie on the sly. According to new figures, Bristol households may prefer to chin wag about climate change than Coronation Street, but it doesn't stop them chucking out far more food waste than families in poorer Manchester.
The Love Food Hate Waste group tell us we are green sinners, not saints because we throw out around £640 a year worth of food a year, which is above the national average.
It doesn't sit well with how we see ourselves, does it?
Those kind souls from Tesco have deigned to tell us exactly where we are going wrong. Bags of salad being the chief culprit. It's no surprise.
These days there are probably now more varieties of lettuce on sale in Asda than dishes in my culinary repertoire and the number of dressings available to put on the leaves is enough send a ditherer like me into a panic attack. Can you put coriander or chilli on lettuce? Which of the 3,000 French dressings to choose? It's all too much. You could spend all day debating to crouton or not to crouton.
That's what marks you out as middle class these days. Having a fridge full of rocket and spinach and the ability to pay the massive gas and electricity bills by direct debit instead of a prepayment card.
Yet it seems a good proportion of the salad and fruit and veg we buy goes straight from trolley to tip. Does this mean we are buying greens to feel virtuous and divert attention away from the horse meat lasagne and the bottles of wine at the bottom of the trolley?
Do we change our minds about healthy eating when we get home because the open salad bag smells like a swimming pool or can't be bothered when the kids and teens start screaming that they are hungry?
The main thing is that we are still addicted to shopping. Times are tough but we've got to eat so food is our indulgence. Some people stock up on steak pies, others fish fingers. I have a cupboard full of crinkly plastic bags with different flavourings that I always forget to use when I cook chicken. (Not to mention four bottles of Harpic in the bathroom cupboard). Foodies have more spices than the East India company and others buy enough baking ingredients to keep Mr Kipling in business for a year.
Shows like the Great British Bake Off fuel our obsession. Our pretend love of gardening tempted us to pay top dollar for pretty balls of string and flowery trowels, our supposed love of baking means half the supermarket is devoted to edible nonsense that sits on the top of cupcakes. Yet none of us want to cook a healthy tea when we get in from work.
Mary Berry is right when she says children at school need to be taught how to cook ten basic meals from scratch. They also need to learn how to shop for them. But will it make any difference? Have we lost our appetite and ability to cook ordinary food. When was the last time you had a plain old, boring boiled potato? If we do bother it's gourmet or the highway.
It's easy to blame the supermarkets but the real reason we chuck out so much salad is that we are spoilt. And why not. Life is too short to spend time reviving a limp lettuce.