Another week, another packaged-produce-at-the-grocery-store scandal. This time around, it's Canadian grocery chain Sobeys that's under fire after someone snapped a photo of an avocado that had been cut in half and pitted before being wrapped in plastic, packaged in cardboard, and priced at $3.99. After all, one of the many cool things about avocados (others being guacamole, avocado toast and the fact that you can actually make chocolate cake with them) is that they come in their own nature-made wrapper, otherwise known as a peel.
"Adding packaging to an avocado is strange to say the least," Christine Kizik wrote when she posted the pic to Sobeys's Facebook page. "This is wasteful and I'm curious about the reasoning for Sobeys stocking avocado this way?"
Her post has been shared more than 700 times over the last few days, and the photo has begun to go viral. The scandal is prompting yet another debate over whether or not this kind of convenience food is helpful or just irresponsible, a way for grocers to promote and capitalize on laziness.
Just two weeks ago there was a similar outcry when a shelf full of peeled Sumo mandarin oranges, each one individually packaged in a plastic container and priced at $5.99 a pound, was spotted at an Oakland, California, Whole Foods. The photo was tweeted tens of thousands of times (and even got its own #orangegate hashtag), and gained international media attention. The supermarket chain quickly announced it had made a mistake and was pulling the product.
But while most of the online reaction to these pre-peeled foods has been critical, it's worth wondering why some pre-prepped and packaged items that have been sold for years—bagged lettuces, cut-up fruits and veggies, minced onion and garlic, and shelled edamame, for example—haven't prompted much backlash.
And some in the disabled community have recently spoken out in support of packaged items like those peeled oranges. "Anything that helps make my regular acts of daily life safer and more convenient is always a plus," a PhD candidate in disability studies wrote on her blog earlier this month. "So I was one of a number of disabled people who pushed back against the wholesale shaming of preprepared foods."
Sobeys, meanwhile, isn't backing down. "This product was developed for people who might be new to using avocados and for a little more convenience," they wrote in a Facebook response. "It eliminates the guess work when it comes to ripeness and any challenges if you are not familiar with peeling and seeding a fresh avocado. The packaging is there to keep the fresh wholesome appearance and quality of the avocado without it browning prior to consumption."
Whether this will be the last pre-packaged scandal to make headlines for the time being remains to be seen, but if you happen to spot an already-cracked egg on the shelf with a $6 price tag, you'd better get tweeting.
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