Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Preserve Me From Preservatives

One of the guilty pleasures I’m happy to confess to is our dishwasher. Green Gran pointed out it wasn’t till the arrival of her fourth bairn that a dishwasher was deemed appropriate, so I‘m clearly just a lazy sod.

We’re only at number one but the time it saves of an evening is wonderful and in many cases a dishwasher will use less water than the numerous sinks required to clean our daily pile.

Which brings me to the stuff that actually does the cleaning.

I’ve long been an advocate of being aware of what you put down drains, loos and plugholes. Out of sight, out of mind to most folk but if we don’t think about this stuff it will come back to bite us. Tipping grease and oil from the grill pan or frying pan down the sink will probably end up blocking your plumbing, never mind jamming the sewer pipes out in the street or down by the river or beach. And as for the chemicals we consume in our kitchens and bathrooms…

There has been a rise in the number of “eco” products on the market but sometimes if you look closely they still contain perfumes and other nasties that don’t break down and will linger out there in the water environment. The Moray Firth dolphins must be pretty fragrant by now! Wife-features also reckons some of the “eco” stuff creates a gunky build up in the appliances and plumbing.

Because there isn’t an immediate impact obvious for us to see we tend to use chemicals, wash them down the drain and not think about them. It’s interesting to see further research taking place on this subject in the Highlands.

I went through a brief period of being addicted to Kim and Aggie’s How Clean Is Your House - they were forever using vinegar and baking soda to scrub all sorts of things. While some chemicals clearly give protection for health you do wonder whether we need so many and so much in our lives.

One of the (many) reasons I try to avoid supermarket shopping is the chemical preservatives used in food that’s travelled a long way. I’m the sort of nerd who hunts out “natural” apricots - not the bright orange kind but the dark brown and slimy variety that don’t contain sulphur dioxide or whatever it is.

On Saturday we trooped into Inverness (by train, of course) and scooped up lots of local produce with zero chemical preservative nonsense. Veg from Macleod Organics, pork sausages from Brackla Farm, croissants from the French folk, amazing soda bread from Ullapool and salmon from Aultbea.

We’ve dirtied plenty of plates these past few days, which leads me back to the dishwasher. The “eco” variety of washing tablet you get is elusive in Nairn and the Co-op’s own brand isn’t great. However I recently purchased an amazing bucket of tablets that claim to be 100 per cent biodegradable. Upon closer inspection just now I burst out laughing.

It’s described as an “Active 6 in 1 premium washing system”. 6 in 1 you say? I detect a whiff of marketing BS but let’s play along for a moment.

1. Detergent to penetrate and break down the toughest baked on, etc etc
2. Rinse aid function for a spotless yadayada
3. Protector action (!) to prevent corrosion
4. Microblended formula (it means the tablets dissolve fast)
5. Water softening agent (handy in case I take the tablets to the south of England)
6. Sanitising agent to clean your machine
7. There isn’t a seven but they should add the fact the manufacturer’s address is “Mildred Sylvester Way”. It sounds like a film noir starring Fred McMurray. It’s almost as cool an address as the Weetabix factory in Burton Latimer, which sounds like an Agatha Christie sleuth.

Anyway, wow. That’s an impressive 6 point system. And the name of this eco-friendly micro-blended super-sanitising protector agent?

“Simply Dishwash”.

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