Why pre-packaged and prepared food can have a positive impact on people with disabilities
By: Philippa Harrington, On: 21 October 2018
Increased awareness of the effect that plastics have on our environment means that many of us are considering the packaging surrounding the products we buy than ever before. But perhaps it’s time to look at the bigger picture and consider the advantages certain pre-packaged foods can have for those with disabilities.
Landfill sites continue to pile up with rubbish, and various documentaries and charity campaigns have shown us the devastation that certain plastics can wreak, particularly at sea. It therefore seems logical to cut down the amount of these materials we produce, or at least introduce schemes such as the plastic bag charge scheme – something which has led to a reduction in usage of nearly 90 percent, according to government figures.
However, despite the decline in the use of plastic bags, some campaigners have a found a new target: pre-prepared foods, such as pre-peeled oranges, sliced cauliflower, diced onions and more.
Who can pre-prepared fruit and veg benefit?
Products like these have recently been criticised on social media, with many considering a pre-chopped vegetable or a peeled orange in a plastic container as completely unnecessary – particularly when many fruits and vegetables come with their own natural ‘packaging’. But let’s consider the bigger picture.
There are thousands of people with disabilities and mobility issues who are reliant on accessible food, not just for convenience, but to survive. Many people with disabilities or reduced mobility find it difficult to cut up fruit or vegetables and are left with two options – get somebody else to do it for them or purchase pre-cut fruit and veg at an inflated cost.
As social care continues to face increasing levels of cuts, the former just isn’t an option for many people with disabilities – and even if it were, many people prefer to choose an option which provides them with more independence.
While nobody enjoys paying more than they must for a small plastic pot of fruit or vegetables, it can be a necessity. And despite already feeling guilty about the excess use of plastics, increasing numbers of people with disabilities are being shamed by social media campaigns and online petitions calling for the outright banning of these products. Many of those calling for the ban have not taken the time to consider the wider implications for those suffering from mobility problems and other disabilities. Now is the time for the prejudice to stop.
While minced mushrooms, pre-spiralised courgette and diced onions might seem like the height of laziness or wastefulness to some, for others these products are a lifeline which can make all the difference between eating healthily and relying on calorie-filled ready meals.
What’s the alternative to pre-prepared foods?
After all, what’s the alternative? A reliance on takeaway food or microwaveable meals is neither a healthy or viable option. So, why should those with disabilities miss out on enjoying good quality home-cooked dinners?
Perhaps instead of taking issue with the existence of such products, it would be more constructive if campaigners were to contest high prices and the lack of environmentally friendly packaging. We need an increased awareness of people who don’t just find these products useful, but rely on them to get their fix of fruit and veg.
Instead of making people feel uncomfortable for their reliance on pre-chopped and pre-peeled products, perhaps it would make more sense for us all to sign petitions asking supermarkets to package pre-prepared vegetables and other items in biodegradable packaging. In doing so, we would be acknowledging that these items don’t just exist out of sheer laziness – and that there are more positive contributions we can make when it comes to lobbying big businesses to cut down on plastics, none of which contribute to the detriment of people with disabilities.
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