When Accessibility gets Labeled Wasteful

Note on Accessibility

There has been some concerns about the contrast on this blog, unfortunately some find it hard to read light text on a dark background while others prefer it. I am looking into getting accessibility options for the blog but until then if you prefer to read dark text on a light background, this post is available on Medium here.


So there’s a debate going on, on Twitter right now between disabled people and people who either claim to care about the environment and or just want to complain about “lazy people”

The tweet that started it all

orangegate cropped

Image Description: tweet with a picture of peeled oranges in plastic containers on a grocery store (whole foods) shelf. Tweet reads “If only nature could find a way to cover these oranges so we didn’t need to waste so much plastic on them”

The original tweet has been shared over 70,000 times. Whole Foods has apparently agreed to remove the prepeeled oranges from their stores. Environmentalists and those who hate laziness rejoice!

The problem is that this discourse completely ignores how preprepared food impacts people with disabilities. The most common complaints about the sale of these oranges is either the wastefulness of the additional packaging (which is true but somewhat misdirected as I’ll discuss later) or that anyone who buys this must be incomprehensibly lazy.

As a person with limited hand dexterity, I look at this and see an easier way to eat healthy food. I actively avoid eating oranges, not because I dislike them (they are definitely tasty) but because I have so much difficulty peeling them. Any attempt to peel an orange is likely to result in an unappetizing mess because I’ve squeezed the orange to hard while trying to maneuver it for peel removal.

I don’t have access to peeled oranges from my grocery store though I’d probably take advantage of them if I did. I do buy precut vegetables all the time because it is more convenient and safer for me to do so.

Preparing food with limited mobility is both hugely time consuming and potentially dangerous. While adapted cooking tools do exist to help offset those issues they are really expensive (I wrote about that here).

Anything that helps make my regular acts of daily life safer and more convenient is always a plus. So I was one of a number of disabled people who pushed back against the wholesale shaming of preprepared foods. The responses I got were informative in looking at how nondisabled people disregard and try and shut down discussions of accessibility. Rebuttals to inserting disability and accessibility into the conversation included what I consider the most ridiculous attempt to maintain the moral high ground. It was,

I mean accessibility is nice and all but you know that wasn’t the thinking behind this product. It wasn’t designed for disabled people.

You know what, that’s probably entirely true. Whole foods was probably trying to cater to the convenience aspect. This is supported by the fact that the protest against the product on environmental and anti-lazy grounds was so successful.

The thing is this argument is hilariously irrelevant. In fact it shows that things don’t need to be directly conceived as accessible products to function that way. In many way things that are accidentally accessible are better than things that are specifically designed to be. This is because things that are accidentally accessible are marketed and available to everyone and are thus likely to be more easily available that an accessible product which is likely only sold in specialized stores. Seriously, accessibility that requires no thought to implement is the best.

Other arguments I got were,

Peeled oranges have a shorter shelf life so how convenient are they really?

This is true and it indicates just how much planning has to go into living while disabled. I have to plan my meals around the fresh produce I buy more strictly that others because I buy some things precut. This can be inconvenient but it pales in comparison to being forced to rely more heavily on canned or other processed foods that have a longer shelf life. My disability doesn’t disappear just because a whole head of cauliflower will last longer in my fridge than smaller prepared florettes.


Peeled oranges are certainly going to cost more than unpeeled and isn’t that a barrier?

Also true but here’s the thing, being disabled is expensive and costs for accessible products can be prohibitive. It is however easier to budget for the extra dollar or two that prepared fruits and vegetables are going to cost every couple weeks than the dozens or hundreds of dollars buying adapted cooking equipment will cost up front. This is a case where the cost should be the cause for protest not the cost being used as an excuse to protest the product. I’m all for my life being more affordable.

Other disabled activists dealt with other arguments. The person who argued most ardently with me was actually pretty tame and seemed more clueless than anything as they clearly didn’t think their arguments through and went away quietly when I calmly rebutted their arguments. Others were not so lucky. Things got a lot messier and ableist as Twitter user Ana Mardoll learned as she systematically tore apart those arguments (for a full view of this thread click here)

Issues arose when protesters prioritized the environment over the experiences of disabled people. Though as Ana points out those plastic food containers are hardly new. They are a ubiquitous sight at any grocery store deli housing things like artisanal cheese, salads and mac & cheese. Yet how is it that the wastefulness arguments crops up over something that is accessible, rather than the widespread use of plastic containers generally. Not to mention at least these look like the could be reused or repurposed. Where is the protest over bags of prepared salad? I guess peeling an orange is to easy but the convenience of salad in a plastic bag is to much to be denied.

Ana further points out that disability inherently comes with a greater need for product consumption. Disabled people need mobility aids and other tools that inevitably have an impact on the environment. Many of the people she encountered appeared to suggest that in the fight for the environment, disabled people are too inconvenient and should not be accommodated.

People who conceded that disabled people should be able to buy peeled and prepared food were sometimes still unwilling to give up the environmental angle and suggested that we should just ask the clerk at the register to peel the oranges upon purchase.

This is both an issue of hygiene because, I pretty sure those oranges in containers were peeled in an environment that was more controlled for hygiene than the store checkout where the clerk has been in contact with dozens of people and their money without the benefit of regular cleaning.

Also disabled people should not have to jump through additional hoops to get things which is both an unnecessary wate of time but forces us into a role where we must ask for help.

The issue here isn’t that the environment isn’t important. It absolutely is but environmentalism has most definitely ignored disability and accessibility. Basically if something is billed as environmental. It is almost certainly inaccessible. Consider the love affair with ogling (though mostly not actually moving into) tiny houses. No micro home is ever going to be wheelchair accessible and many of them depend on loft space accessed by a ladder for sleeping so even ambulatory people with limited mobility can’t use them. They are a popular trend in cutting the carbon footprint though. Downsizing generally is considered the easiest way to become more environmentally friendly. It is however just not really an option for disabled people where additional space and adapted devices are required for daily living.

Far to often if a location heavily touts its low environmental impact, you can assume it’s going to be inaccessible because they are cutting electrical use by not having things like an elevator.

I keep thinking of my stay at the Planet Traveler Hostel in Toronto several years ago while in town briefly for my sister’s wedding (before I moved here for school). It is touted as being very environmentally friendly. While there the owner bragged about all the environmental upgrades. The thing is you can’t get anywhere in the building without having to go up or down at least one and usually more flights of stairs. Stair that are narrow and pretty steep. I showed up the with my luggage and wearing my AFO so stairs not the greatest. I managed but it was uncomfortable and time consuming. If I was any less mobile than I am, it wouldn’t have been an option and I’d have had to beg family members for money to pay for a hotel (as I had been unemployed for over a year at that point and had spent the last of my money on the plane ticket)

I would love to see containers with prepared food get more environmentally friendly but more importantly environmentalists need to start considering disability and accessibility whether it be in finding more sustainable way to create the products we rely on to accessible sustainable housing. What I don’t want to see is people throwing disabled people under the bus because they’d rather get rid of a product than figure out a way to deliver it sustainably.

Also if your main concern over the peeled oranges was a rage over widespread laziness. Basically anything that benefits lazy people is going to be accessible to some degree so embrace the convenience (or just don’t buy it) and don’t add a level of shame to buying a product that actually makes our lives easier and which in conjunction with other similar products can actually improve our independence and quality of life.

Updated to add this horrendous defense


So basically disabled people should not be allowed to expect or demand better access to food because we never used to have it. *sigh*

and the argument is off Twitter and Whole Foods is being condemned by the environmally conscious site Treehugger here ableism is unfortunately winning the wider war for narrative dominance.

Update 2

The Huffington Post has gotten on the “Thank god, Whole Foods scrapped this thing” bandwagon with no mention of how disabled people have engaged in the conversation.

Both Reuters and GOOD have written about this and managed to mention the disability perspective.

Also from Mashable

Update 3

This horrible article from Global Citizen is a thing. It presents the disabled protesters as whiny and ill informed and further suggests that we have loads of accessible food options (no sources were cited for this claim)

Update 4

A great blog post from Antioch College Food Committee which actually starts to unpack the inaccessibility of much environmental activism and is committed to considering how their choices in eco living might impact access to food.

Update 5

Image description: Peeled oranges stacked in mason jars with the caption “Is this more a peeling?”

So Whole Foods sent out this Tweet which pretty much confirms that they at least have not considered the disability aspect as mason jars may be more environmentally friendly but they are certainly less easy to open that a plastic tub. So much for requests for more accessibility along with sustainability. While I’m sure they are not actually selling these jarred oranges. It shows that they are not listening to this side of the conversation.


178 thoughts on “When Accessibility gets Labeled Wasteful

  1. I’d just like to clarify that you don’t ask the check-out clerk at the register to peel or cut produce, because they won’t do it. You ask a produce clerk. They will gladly take what you’d like, go to the back, wash it, cut it in a sanitary manner, and package it for you. All at no extra cost. And if someone working produce won’t do this for you then you voice your concern/complaint to a manager because customer service is very important.


    1. I’d like to reiterate that this is unnecessary gatekeeping that we should not have to do because it is demoralizing and humiliating to have to ask for something that anyone else can grab off a shelf besides then being open to said clerk’s judgement of whether you’re disabled enough to get the service. If it’s not part of the infrastructure of the store and available to all then it’s just another added burden, particularly to those who have anxiety

      Liked by 7 people

      1. It actually is part of the produce department’s job. They also are supposed to offer you samples of any fruit/veggie (that can be eaten raw) if you ask about the taste. Same in the bakery, if you ask about a specialty pastry, they are supposed to offer you a sample, and if you ask them to specially cut some bakery bread/cake/pastry, it’s part of their job 😉 Deli too. I was a secret shopper for Safeway for a while, these are all regular services offered that a lot of people just don’t know about. If any employee gives you grief about any of that (or anything in general), report them to the 1-800 number. I know Safeway takes customer feedback very seriously, I’m sure other chains do as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. People ask for things in the world- they ask for things when they are elderly and they need things reached on high shelves, they ask for things when they cannot see and need labels to be read, they ask for a basket when they are carrying too many things and need a few more items. It isn’t gatekeeping- this is coming from a bonafide disabled person with an anxiety disorder, not knowing your experience, but there must be a certain level of reciprocity in every socialized interaction in order to foster a community. If you allow yourself to be “open to a clerk’s judgment,” you are cracking open your defenses, which you should not have to do. Do not take judgment for an answer. Go to a higher hierarchy, ask for what you need and are entitled to. I think that you’re putting an unnecessary burden on management by calling this a form of gatekeeping. This is not a way of keeping the disabled out, you’re keeping yourself in by limiting how you interact.


      3. Even if it’s “supposed” to be available to all, the reality is most stores don’t have the staff to support this gatekeeping/handholding approach. Bring back the peeled oranges in plastic bags.

        As someone who worked in a grocery store for a summer (meat counter), yes, we did what we could to help guests. Our counter was not actually staffed the entire time the store was open, and not everyone who was working provided the same level of courtesy or attention to guests.


      4. Disagree. It’s not demoralizing unless you allow it. If its something you need, it’s something you need. Plus, infrastructure is certainly in place. I often ask for things that I do not see displayed in a grocery OR ask for a cut of meat (etc) to be trimmed out in the back. They are absolutely set up to do it. In addition, I sometimes shop in smaller produce or butcher shops where the service is more personal.

        Where the environment is concerned…..well, it should be prioritized above everything. That includes your convenience and my convenience. One day it won’t matter if I can can peel an orange, if there is no clean air to breathe.


      5. If you’ve been paying attention to this issue outside of the blog, you’d see so many tweets from people who say they haven’t eaten oranges in years. A solution isn’t accessible if people won’t use it and I am a firm believer in accessibility being designed with the actual input of disabled people and not simply dictated to us. The results tend to be better. As another commenter who works in a grocer pointed out, stores are often understaffed so a person might not be available to help. They also pointed out that many people who had been suggesting this were being overly optimistic about how positive a reaction disabled people who interrupted store staff from their regular duties would be.
        Beyond that oranges are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what needs to be done to make the world environmentally friendly and far to many of the solutions leave disabled people out.

        Please read my follow up post where I address some of these issues in greater detail. https://crippledscholar.wordpress.com/2016/03/09/oranges-access-opposition-and-yes-but/

        Liked by 4 people

    2. How F-ING HORRIBLE horrible that (in this highly individualized society) we have to choose between access and sustainability. I’d argue that’s a false choice – both the disability activists who are defending unsustainability, AND the environmental activists who are saying that access is lower priority, are wrong. There are solutions that can satisfy both.

      If we still had real ‘community’, rather than anonymous customer-seller relationships, this false choice wouldn’t be a thing.

      To solve this problem, we’d need to focus on retail outlets making food *really* accessible at the point of sale, as an alternative to mass-packaging everything. I appreciate your idea – asking produce workers to peel and package products for folks with less manual dexterity. But as many of the other replies here indicate, it’s not enough for them to just do it ‘on request’ – to make it truly accessible, it would need to be a well-publicised policy.

      Imagine if Wholefoods, Sobeys etc had signs up – “If you need your fruit or veggies pre-cut, we’d be happy to help! Just ask us.” That would be a huge step forward to satisfy both the access and sustainability dimensions of the problem.


      1. Yeah. And the thing is, there’s a ton of research for sustainable packaging going on.
        My favorite pet peeve is plastic fruit containers with holes for breathability. Because it’s not a hygiene barrier that matters and you could just use dried woven leaves or straw from a ton of already available commercial plants. But plastic is an industry standard. So much that I’m sure laws are built around it.


  2. I was one of those who initially thought the whole thing was ludicrous. Pre-peeled oranges?? Who could be so lazy?? Then I read the comments on the original tweet, and saw a whole new side to it. I have now been arguing it when I see this photo/tweet show up. I am dismayed by the almost outright hostility some people have against this. *smh* My thought was that the store could have someone peel a half-dozen to a dozen oranges in the morning (depending on sales), and wrap them in butcher paper. I would think that would be easier to open, and still keep the item fresh for the day, and no one has to ask to have a favor done for them.


  3. The photo was originally taken and shared by Michelle Cehn, the person who tweeted about it in this article is not the original source, just a heads up!


  4. I am sorry, but asking for a little help as against insisting that everything is packaged and available on the shelf is just wrong as the extra packaging is damaging to the environment. For comparison in order to get a blue badge for disabled parking requires you to fill out a form, there are gate keeper issues to make sure you get the parking you need and other people don’t abuse the system, with no blue badge what would be the alternative, massively increasing parking lots so there was never a space issue for the disabled but the whole world would suffer as we paved everything over to make parking lots.


      1. Does bringing a peeled orange in a box up to the counter not do the same thing ? If anything I’d say that opens you up for a lot more judgment than simply asking some one to help cut a peeled orange for you. I’ve seen you argue that a few times not and it honestly looks more ridiculous to me every time you say it


      2. except in the box on the shelf it is just another of the hoards of prepped foods that are available to be purchased by everyone and likely will be, so there is no guessing about whether the customer is disabled, it does not take up additional time. Besides looking into finding more sustainable packaging for these kinds of products can be carried over to the other prepped foods that predate this issue and aren’t going anywhere, Whole Foods has confirmed that and these kinds of prepped foods are increasingly common at other grocery stores. So in the long run it will not only make things more comfortable for disabled people but could potentially make other packaged food more sustainable as well.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. This is such a bad comparison. If I could sign up once a year via a form to basically have my groceries prepared the way I want them (I.e. have 1 pre-peeled orange a week available to me at my discretion) then yes. Except that’s already a much better solution than the impromptu clerk scenario. What I find baffling, is that either way the item has to leave the store packaged so the “plastic waste” element isn’t even ejected from the equation. It may be minimized in some small way, but this definitely isn’t an optimal environmental solution (at the cost of added accessibility barriers).


  5. Thank you for writing about this! When I first saw that image of the oranges, my first thought was of my aching hands and how I might actually eat an orange if it was pre-peeled. I had no idea there was a wider discussion about this (I now avoid twitter because of the vitriol.) I’ll be discussing this with others now, to raise awareness!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wouldn’t it be easier to define this as a freedom issue. The seller and the buyer are free to buy and sell however they wish, so long there is a mutual interest.
    Remove the nannies from the equation and it becomes simple.


    1. While that may be easier, often stores don’t think about creating products to cater to disabled people and so without advocacy, we rarely see progress in increased access to goods


  7. I’m disabled and have limited hand dexterity. I find peeling oranges difficult. However, I am very concerned about the environment (we are trashing it – and you should see how well disabled people are treated in a society that is collapsing due to environmental degradation.) I would prioritise minimising unnecessary waste over independently eating an orange.

    Re your argument that you ‘shouldn’t have to ask for assistance – how undignifying!’ – that’s your problem. As a person with a disability I have to ask for assistance all the time. I don’t feel shame for this, and I shouldn’t feel shame for this.

    If you really want to champion disability rights, there are plenty of other issues that you could tackle that would a) have a larger impact on disabled people’s lives and b) result in less non-biodegradable landfill.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. No single thing is universally accessible so that isn’t really a fair yardstick for what to prioritize what gets done but I do point out that I want the world to be both more accessible and sustainable which would include looking for both alternatives to the plastic packaging and ways to make the replacement even more accessible.

      And as for your other comment about how poorly we would fair in an environmental wasteland, that’s true but in a world where sustainability was always prioritized over accessibility we aren’t likely to fair much better, so I really think it’s better to consider sustainability and accessibility together because it’s a lot easier to build in accommodations as we move forward than it is to add them as an afterthought.


    2. are you suggesting that you think the store will stop carrying unpeeled oranges in favor of peeled oranges in plastic packaging? because i gotta say, i don’t see that happening.


  8. Such an interesting read! Do you think that there could be any medium that would address all issues voiced – making sure it was just as easily accessible for differently-abled people and making sure there was less of an impact on the environment?


      1. If you have thought of some would you mind sharing your thoughts? Before reading your article I (embarrassingly) had never once thought of accessibility past handicapped spots and vans with ramps. So I would love to hear from someone that deals with events like this everyday and can offer some solutions that might be more meaningful than someone who is simply armchair theorizing, if you care to share 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. HTML includes built-in functionality to associate images with description metadata. This is called the ‘alt’ attribute of an img tag.

    According to the W3C, the body that defines the HTML standards, one of the reasons for the existence of the alt attribute is:

    ‘some of your visitors cannot see images, be they blind, color-blind, low-sighted; the alt attribute is of great help for those people that can rely on it to have a good idea of what’s on your page’

    Screen readers for vision-impaired users will read out the alt text of images by default.

    In this post, you have included text in the alt attribute of the image. It looks like you’ve left it unchanged from the default alt text chosen by the WordPress platform, which is the filename of the image (in this case, it is ‘orangegate cropped’).

    To change the alt text of an image in WordPress, switch from the ‘Visual’ to the ‘HTML’ editor. Your image will be displayed in the HTML view as an img tag, beginning with a less-than sign, followed by the text ‘img src=”‘, followed by a bunch of text, followed by a greater-than sign. After the ‘src’, but before the greater-than sign, there will be a bit that says ‘alt=”something”‘. Change the text ‘something’ to an appropriate description of the image.

    I recommend that you use the alt attribute for descriptions of images instead of including them in the body of the text (on websites that allow you to do this; Facebook does not let you set the alt attribute for images, and Tumblr provides limited functionality to edit alt text depending on the context of the relevant image). This will allow vision-impaired people who disable images in their browser or people who rely on screen-readers to access the descriptions, while also creating a logical link between the image and its description in the structure of the web document. This logical link lets accessibility software know that an image description is an image description, allowing it to treat that text differently according to the preferences of the user (and the capability of the software). For example, somebody might have their screenreader pause before and after reading alt text, so that it’s clear to them that it does not form part of the main body of text.

    Using the existing alt-text technology in HTML instead of trying to “roll your own”, by inserting image descriptions in the main text allows for better interaction between your website and accessibility software (whether currently existing or yet to be invented).


    1. What I’m hearing from people is more that they are having difficulty with the colour scheme. I need something that will allow people to change the contrast so they can have light text on dark if they need or dark text on light.


      1. I’d like to share an app (for Chrome browser) that helps me deal with that issue: “Dark Reader”. I can set it (overall) to “dark” or “light” as I prefer, easily change that setting temporarily for a page, or list a page as a permanent exception (as I’ll be doing with yours, since your default is happily easy on my light-sensitive eyes, thanks!). I hope this will also help someone else.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. When I first saw the article (shared on my Facebook from a co-worker), I wanted to laugh. It seemed like just another moment of the internet activists getting into arguments with each other and complaining about it. When I’d seen the intial tweet about the oranges, I thought they were incredibly stupid, and it was a good thing to remove them.

    Your article was not the one I expected.

    I work with persons with disabilities and yet never considered how precut and peeled produce is something they might use (the home I work at does all food preparation for our clients). I never thought about how something like this can bring healthy, good food to people. That’s something we should always encourage. Eating healthy, eating fun foods – that’s something that brightens lives that are often hard enough already. We try to encourage that in our work. And yet I never considered how having these sorts of foods for sale would be able to do that.

    Your article was an eye opener for me, and I want to thank you for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I can see both sides to this argument, really (especially since pre-sectioned citrus fruit in juice has been available in glass jars for nearly two decades now, unless it’s vanished since the last time I had working transportation that wasn’t my feet). I’m not getting into the argument, but I did want to share a helpful trick with you. I’m live-in help for my mother, and this is how we deal with oranges here so she can open them on her own when she wants one without painful peeling: Identify the ends of the orange (where it was attached to the tree on one end, and where the blossom scar is on the opposing end). Slice these off, removing just enough to barely cut into the fruit. Cut a ‘seam’ down one side of the orange running from one of the now exposed ends to the other. Unfold the orange. Remove sections and enjoy. If you find it hard to unfold, or want to share with a friend, then slice it in half at the midway point between the two ends before unfolding. It’s a whole lot easier and a lot less messy too.


      1. This is a way that my mother can ‘peel’ oranges /without help/, as she prefers to do as many things as possible without asking for assistance. The few cuts needed get nowhere near fingers, unlike suggestions to slice or quarter the fruit, and there’s no need for the amount of work in removing the whole peel.


  12. I read this from a reblog or a pingback or whatever the trendy name is today. And it hurts. I hurt for you for not having accessible foods. I hurt for me, because I have a disability that nobody recognises that has led to total social isolation and an inability to ask for help in a way that others can comprehend as “asking for help” rather than laziness or cluelessness or passive-aggressiveness or stupidity. I hurt because I can’t enunciate why this hurts so much without seeming like I’m attacking the person who led me to read this entry.

    People: I love you. All of you, in all your ways and forms, and I am reaching out. People: I am so alone that I feel like I live in what others would call “hell”. People: this is not directed at any one person, and I am not being passive aggressive. People: I am sorry that everything I say and do is wrong. People: I am sorry that this comment sounds like it has nothing to do with this entry; I only wish that finding community was like finding pre-peeled oranges. I wish that dealing with severe disability could be environmentally friendly and community friendly as well.


  13. Reblogged this on Poor as Folk and commented:
    I was going to write about this but I think about everything I wanted to say is covered here. I’ve read some awful ableist and dismissive commentary that I’ve found so disturbing. When disabled people say,”Oh, that would be really helpful to me,” the appropriate response should be asking how can we improve disabled people’s access to food? instead of telling telling disables people to “Deal with it and adapt. Maybe take a vitamin c supplement instead of eating oranges” (really).
    I rarely bring up my own religious and spiritual beliefs but it’s so relevant here. I’m Pagan. The essence of Paganism is being a earth worshiping tree hugger. Being an environmentalist is part of my religious ethos. Spiritual environmentalism means you recognize PEOPLE as being a valuable part of the world. People are part of the environment. What I’ve seen is people putting concern for the environment (without any real basis) over the needs of disabled people. It’s disgusting. I hope I never forget my reusable shopping bags and have to get a plastic bag in full view of these people! Goodness.


  14. Am I missing something here? I know there are many products out there that are environmentally unfriendly, but they exist because Mom and Dad both work, and Johnny has to be at soccer, and Susie has dance. And that’s okay, because they make life easier for busy people, but it’s not okay because it makes it possible for a disabled person to have quality, healthful food? There is a long list of products that aren’t environmentally friendly (swifter dusters, disposable toilet bowl cleaners, wipes of all kinds, aluminum foil, plastic in EVERYTHING, to mention a few), but if it makes life easier for another human being who has a disability, a segment of society complains? There is no compassion, there is no honor in this. Shame on those who would stand up and voice such an opinion.


  15. I cannot BELIEVE that people are going crazy over the very limited amount of plastic packaging of peeled oranges when the landfills are being filled with TSUNAMI-LIKE WAVES of plastic water bottles and disposable diapers EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Not to mention containers of take out food from thousands of restaurants that EACH have hundreds of customers per day. Add that up. So…just how many of these packages of peeled oranges are sold via Whole Foods per day? Compare that number to the rest of what I just mentioned. Yeah. If you’re paying attention and did the math then you just realized how inane the “peeled oranges are killing the environment” is. Utterly inane.

    I have epilepsy. Years ago, when the seizures were very uncontrolled, it was insanity for me to handle knives or anything sharp. I lived alone and so I had to be very careful in the kitchen particularly. I bought all of my food pre-cut, and yes it cost more, but my safety was paramount. And of course pre-cut food has to be packaged to stay fresh. Sorry Environment, but am I allowed to exist too? I wasn’t safe to use the stovetop or the oven in case I seizures while food was cooking and didn’t regain consciousness before the food started to burn, or if it caught fire or boiled over, so I had to use the microwave to cook.

    No one who is disabled can afford to live off of frozen dinners for any length of time, either cost-wise or health-wise. I needed REAL food to cook, and that meant fresh and pre-cut. Amen…the end. I am disabled and I also deserve to be healthy and live a decent life. I don’t hear the environmentalists screaming blue murder to end the sale of potato chips and Cheetos…do you? Are THEY necessary? GOD NO! They are not toilet paper or sugar or salt or flour or coffee or rice or any of the food staples or ‘basics’ of daily life. They’re CRAP! And they’re all in non-biodegradable plastic bags and they are sold in countless numbers daily. And the environmentalists say not word one. But a few peeled oranges? Oh lord…they have to put a stop to that incredible waste. Only lazy people eat such accessible healthy food. But potato chips and Cheetos are fine. Just fine.

    Case closed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Case closed.” Haha funny. Thanks for using one of my favorite fallacious arguments. By that I mean, yes there may be bigger or more important issues (in your eyes) out there, but that doesn’t give you the authority to shut down arguments against this one. But keep trying to sound like you won the interwebs.


  16. it takes me awhile to get an orange peeled, but I don’t think I would buy “pre-peeled” oranges because I suspect even with the packaging they would rapidly dry out – but I often buy prepared veggies & only buy peeled baby carrots because even a Tupperware peeler peels more of me than any vegetable (once during a group discussion of what would be a modern “Holy Grail” I quipped “a jar opener that actually works” & only the other person with a disability in the group got it)


  17. Really sorry for all the ableism and discrimination many “enviromentalist” are imposing. All the acusations and everything don’t feel like they come from a group that is supposed to be loving, caring or empathetic. For some people its really hard to feel empathy :\ Thanks for sharing, this post has helped me see better and gain awareness.


  18. Great article and perspective on how accessibility that is accidental is far greater than things that were specifically designed to be accessible. I could not agree with you more about everything you wrote, and I stand in solidarity with you on this argument. It is a fact that some people will just never understand or try to understand the perspective that you’re portraying. Unfortunately some people will not understand disability and what it all entails, and all we can do is try to not only be advocates, but also educators. Now despite your valid statements, I was surprised and appalled by this blog name– “crippledscholar”… This for sure is not Person-First Language and is labeled with such a negative connotation. People with disabilities are not “crippled”, but are ‘people’ who are living with a disability. Person First.


    1. I actually never use people first language and in fact have written about it a couple times


      As for the name of my blog it was a political choice

      But yeah I and a growing number of disabled people aren’t fans of person first. It’s awkward and doesn’t do what it sets up to do. Disability can be an identity.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. After reading the second link you posted, I found it interesting that as a Therapeutic Recreation student, I learned to use PFL to consider the individuals’ sense of humanity and respect. Not to disregard one’s disability, not to see one’s disability as a medical concern, but to view the person as a person and to advocate for inclusion in society. This was the first time I learned that PFL can be viewed from a medical model perspective as this is the complete opposite of what I’ve learned. Despite the fact that Therapeutic Recreation is a part of the Health Sciences, we stray from the medical model and take on a more biopsychosocial approach and consider all aspects of the different barriers/obstacles that may affect a person’s quality of life. I think that our purpose of using PFL is not to disregard one’s disability, but to embrace the person and his/her disability. At the end of the day, every person is entitled to label themselves as whatever they choose to. Like you said, “choice is key.”


      2. It’s actually kind of troubling to me that PFL is being framed as not part of the medical model because it’s creation very much was based in it. It’s about framing disability as inherently bad. The Social Model explicitly advocates for the use of disabled people.
        Any suggestion otherwise suggests that your training may have been framed as more progressive than it was. Which is in no way a reflection on you but an avenue that should be looked into.


      3. Would you be able to direct me to any resources/research that will help me to learn more about the origin of PFL? I am a learning student and would love to read more into it. I would surely appreciate it. I assume you have my email address as it is required when I leave a comment. Thank you!


  19. Hey,

    I’m aware I’m a bit late to the conversation, but I just want to let you know that I agree with you 100%, throughout your article, and your comment responses in this post; I read through everything.

    I’m able bodied, but I’m fiercely interested in making products/tools that are considered very well designed. The notion that you cannot have accessibility and environmentally responsible products is utterly preposterous.

    There are so many solutions to this problem and it’s utterly dreadful that people are acting in such a narrow-minded manner.

    “You survived this long without it”?!?

    We could say that about all technology, and yet I doubt anyone arguing against you in this thread would consider giving up their ways of 21st century living, even though it’s built on immoral colonialism, and is gradually destroying the planet.

    The only way to make progress is to experiment.

    Plastic packaging is one, arguably environmentally insensitive, solution.

    There are many others, and if there are people working to put people in space, I’m sure people can figure this out.


  20. Nah.. I don’t agree. There are viable alternatives to the store-bought packaging anyway. Firstly your kids, parents, neighbours, friends are always willing to help out, unless you’ve made the effort to alienate them, or are determined to show how able you are by shutting out people who genuinelly would like to help. Secondly, approaching your local greengrocer, shopkeeper, whatever, and explaining the problem mostly producer positive results. This is speaking from my own experience, and I they it in a positive light, as it allows me to connect with people, rather than becoming a victim of circumstance. I have a relative who also suffers a disability, who prefers to be treated like a victim, and treats any disturbance he can make as some sort of moral victory. Some people thrive on demanding special treatment, portraying themselves as victims, others use it as an opportunity to create understanding. To my thinking, waste plastic, and the over-abundance of packaging, is far more of a problem, with very, very serious implicationr for the environment than the inconvenience of having someone help one out occasionally… Anyway, that works just fine for me.


  21. I quite enjoyed your article. I was looking throughout tumblr just now and saw these precut & packaged tangerines for about the 3rd time around – all at different occasions – which prompted me to do a bit of research. Lo and behold, your WordPress article caught my attention.

    This article made me understand the benefits these products have for those with dexterity disabilities. Surely disabled consumers of the pre-peeled fruit feel like they’re not burden to others and they feel more independent. Honestly, I felt ignorant seeing this borderline meme-ified pic and laughing at how exceedingly lazy someone had to be to decide to attempt to market this. As you said earlier in your article, the purpose of this may very well be for those lazy people, but the the fact that this can help disabled people can’t be ignored.

    I think that- unfortunately- for the masses, if they aren’t in a direct situation as someone else, they find it hard to sympathize with them. Maybe after more talk of this subject, people will be more understanding.

    Out of sheer curiosity to get a better understanding of this specific disability, I just would like to ask… and believe me when I type to you that I mean no disrespect: Do you think it would possibly be easier to nick fruits with something sharp then finish peeling into it? I ask because although I don’t share your disability, I sometimes wear acrylics. If I leave false nails on past 2 weeks, fruits can become hard to peel, since acrylic nails are usually way thicker and more blunt than our regular nails.

    One last question- and it’s on the actual packaging. How easy is it really to open? They’re a bit reminiscent of those grocery store cookie containers with thin brims and no thumb tabs which proved to be an arduous task to try and open. I guess the idea or the fruit packaging is still new and could possibly have areas for improvement.

    Either way, I would love to hear your input!

    Again, great article.


  22. Instead of yet another demand for someone or some business to give us special attention, why not focus instead on solutions toward independence. There are no shortage of ergonomic kitchen gadgets and their designers are leaders in universal design (look up Marc Harrison for example). Let’s up the ante a bit and encourage the design of devices to help us become more independent. PS you have to be kidding about the back and forth in person first. All this PC nonsense is going to alienate able bodied people. When will we learn?


  23. Lazy? Oh, I’ll tell you what’s lazy. Driving cars (which is something I don’t do because I’m legally blind). Seriously though, how come able-bodied people get to use hugly environmentally unfriendly conveniences but the minute the disabled do, it’s lazy?

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Doesn’t matter if it’s peeled, I struggle get it out of the packaging with my disabled hands. Plastic packaging makes me crazy.


  25. Could the answer be a simple win win for everyone? Renewable plant based plastic ? I suggest hemp because it is naturally pest resistant, grows extremely fast and fixes nitrogen in the soil. Admittedly I didn’t think of accessibility when I saw the original pic, I just agreed that it was bad for the environment and shared. And I think that my lack of awareness was pretty innocent. By sharing your story you’ve made me more aware. Thank you. It’s not OK that people have dismissed what you’re saying about how these types of products strengthen your choice and independence. But I think for the most part people have good intentions. Hopefully this discussion topic spreads far and wide and and working together, as an inclusive AND environmentally minded society we can come up with ideas and innovations that serve every body.


  26. While I don’t agree with your stance, it was a stance that I had never considered. Thank you for sharing your opinion and giving me something to think about.


  27. Here is an image of a coconut, wrapped in plastic, then later wrapped in more plastic with a styrofoam plate when it was marked down 50%. A coconut!!!


  28. Thanks for this – a really useful post. Using plastic in most forms is so wasteful, it really surprises me that more companies don’t get penalised for using non-recyclable materials in their packaging, especially when there are usually more environmentally friendly alternatives available. Thanks again.


  29. I am aiming for zero-waste but long ago got fed up with fellow zw-ers attitudes, given a family member’s different ability to deal with food prep and dependence on plastics for indpenendence. I am grateful to read this articulated so well. Thank you.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s