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.

and

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.

 

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177 responses to “When Accessibility gets Labeled Wasteful

  1. I’m environmentally conscious, do what I can but these people here sound without compassion for their fellow man who has it harder! Most old people – including they if they reach old age – become disabled, arthritis in the hands being one disability. I know my mum would buy such a product like the pre-peeled orange because of the problems with her hands. I, still young and eight years disabled, don’t need that kind of help but wouldn’t it be thoughtless, selfish of me if I didn’t care for my fellow man who may really benefit from this? Compassion should extend further than just yourself. And that part about having a stranger pre-peel your orange is disgusting – would that person who suggested this happily agree to having this done, in the store in front of everyone, for them?! Losing physical / mental capabilities is difficult and humiliating enough without being discriminated against.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s like when I get turned down for large print by someone who firstly claims that their computers can’t handle it, and then says, “Can’t you get someone to read it out to you?” As if I hadn’t thought of that. Of course I can’t, my support workers have limited time, and I have Auditory Processing Disorder and can’t handle having things read out to me. They’re breaking the law by refusing to provide large print, but I’m not going to sue the NHS when I’m already having enough trouble booking a medical appointment. This is standard.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I was giving this some thought earlier.

      I *get* the environmental argument–though this is a drop in the bucket to some of the real big fish they could be debating.

      That said, this perspective really opened my eyes to the role these prepackaged foods play in the health and, frankly, sanity of those who are disabled.

      I wonder what would happen if we made equipment more available at the points of sale themselves–in produce aisles of stores, for example. Easy-to-use equipment that anyone can approach, use, and benefit from. Could even bring your own glass containers to cart out the food because those veggies or fruit could be measured in the machine before dispensing the good stuff.

      Better yet, rather than asking the cashier or some random stranger whose job is not to cut you food to randomly cut your food (my GOD how demeaning and unsanitory), how about a fully trained staff member in a booth specially designed for the purpose. Someone who is trained and sanitary. Someone whose job it is to cut this stuff up for anyone who wants it (hell yeah, I would use it–out of sheer laziness, though).

      I just don’t see why the decision has to be all or nothing. Why should it be either we have the prepackaged stuff in stores or folks with disabilities have to suck it up and do without? Why not look for the middle ground?

      Hell, also seems like a great way to create some jobs for folks–either in the factories making the machines or in the booths where the veggies and fruit get cut.

      Liked by 2 people

    • i am on the fence with this as i do see both sides of the argument. i do have to reply about the comment of a stranger peeling the food is discussing tho, do you really think a machine peeled it, just look at the picture. more than likely an under paid foreigner peeled it weeks before you bought it.

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      • I don’t know if it was peeled a machine but I can say with certainty that it was peeled the day it hit the shelf or at most the day before because prepared produce has a very short lifespan. It was almost certainly peeled in store

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      • The point about a stranger peeling it for you was about them doing it in the shop in front of others which is humiliating – unless like someone, suggested here, whose job it is to deal with the food preparation for -everyone-. Unless you’ve lived with a profound disability you can’t really realise the lack of dignity you experience.

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  2. This reminds me of all the dickhead articles about how things like Lyft and InstaCart are just tools for self entitled people who don’t “feel like” talking to another human. I have NEVER seen an article that discusses what a life saving service these things can be for people with disabilities. I know just InstaCart by itself has helped me out so much.

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  3. Its cool that frozen produce is just as nutritious, cheaper than fresh and is often pre-cut and washed. Whoot for frozen veggies.

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      • True. I have multiple disabilities and simply cannot afford it. We should have choice. Its especially relevant in fruit because there is way more frozen veggies than frozen fruit for some reason and I know some people with sensory issues cannot stand vegetables.

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    • They mostly don’t freeze fruit because it messes up the texture too much. When you freeze something the water in the cells expands and ruptures the walls of the cells which makes the food softer/mushier. This doesn’t matter as much in vegetables because you’re supposed cook them (plus they’re mostly higher in fiber/lower in water than fruit so they hold up better to freezing).

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not really sure if you mean that we should be protesting the inaccessibility of frozen food in plastic bags or their environmental impact? If the latter this issue is about the intersection of access and the environment and as I mention this means that more work must be done to make things both accessible and environmentally friendly. If you are commenting on access. Some frozen foods are kept in boxes (like spinach) though fighting for more accessible packaging is also important.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m on the disability advocates side in this debate but it’s true that most frozen veg bags are not recyclable and that should change.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A popular Facebook page called Global Citizen covered this and from the title, they seem to be making out this woman as some activist hero. The truth is complaining to a company about a particular product is basically slacktivism. It’s easy to get one product taken away from a store than to go up against whole systems of oppression. I cannot bear to click on the article to skim through enough to see if they covered the disability angle but here it is: https://www.facebook.com/GLBLCTZN/posts/988128874616214

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      • Forced myself to read it. They are so incredibly biased against disability rights and falsely proclaim that there is a lot of food options for PWD. But are those options healthy?? Hell no! Sad especially that GC wrote this ableist article because I thought they cared a lot about issues people in developing countries face. I’m pretty sure disability is more common in the developing world. Not good at remembering stats but I’m pretty sure that that’s true.

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      • I also loved the really dismissive vocal minority comment. If my blog stats for the day are any indication, this is striking a chord with a lot of people. I set a new personal record for views to the point where I’ve gotten more hits on this post than I got on my entire blog last month in just one day. /not sure what they’d do with that information

        Liked by 2 people

      • I found your blog from this post but I will be a regular reader from now on because I’m very interested in disability rights along with some other social justice movements. Disability also is personal to me. You’re right, that comment was so mean. No crap, PWD are a minority but that doesn’t mean us and our opinions don’t matter to the larger societies on issues that effect us.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I think that the claim that there is a load of accessible food options is bullshit but I assumed they must have meant pre-packaged foods or perhaps it was written by one of those people who presume we all have carers 24/7 and want to deny us the ability to do things for ourselves that we otherwise could such as more of us could open those plastic containers than peel an orange.

    Liked by 1 person

    • wouldn’t that be lovely but I don’t see it happening plus that would just bring on a whole new contingent of protesters who were angry about disabled people getting a benefit that they don’t. Generally I think working towards equality of outcome is better, where the difference in treatment in only so much as is required for everyone to have access to the same things. I’m more than willing to pay for fruit when stores make it accessible

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    • There are people other than disabled folks who have valid reasons for finding precuts easier to use, too. People who are desperately short of time between having a job and raising children leap to mind.

      We already have plenty of preprepared fruit and veg, it’s not as if it’s a new thing. Working to keep it affordable is good. I have a non-disabled partner and support workers, so I don’t often need to get preprepared veg (although I get those bags of butternut squash and sweet potato for soups, as that saves a huge amount of time and energy, and they don’t taste plasticky to me), but when I’ve grabbed things like bags of carrot sticks to take to picnics, I think they’ve been reasonably priced.

      We live in a world where cooking and cleaning no longer have to be huge domestic chores, and with cooking in particular, you can choose how much time and effort you put in, albeit limited by money. But even so, the choices are improving massively. I suspect a lot of the opposition to this is based in misogyny, in outrage that women aren’t doing all their domestic duties as they should. Internalised misogyny, in the case of the women who are attacking people for using preprepared produce.

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  6. Do you have the ability to use a paring knife? You could cut into the peel, open the orange into quarters and then just gently remove the peel from there.

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    • No, I’d be at serious risk of cutting myself (not that I even have the luxury of owning a paring knife). Besides this isn’t just about me and my personal abilities. That may work for some, for others even the plastic container pictures is a barrier. So accessibility needs to be considered for everyone.

      Liked by 4 people

      • So you flew to a wedding, you attend a university, went to a few hotels, but you “don’t have the luxury of owning a paring knife?” I call bullshit on this. Not on you, the person, but on the hyperbolic tone of your argument. Non-adaptive paring knives range from $5-20. Adaptive paring knives, for a variety of ailments, range from $8-25. If you are in such dire straits that you cannot afford an adaptive knife, which drastically reduces the risk of cutting yourself, reply here and I will PayPal you the funds so that you can cut your own fruit.

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  7. Pingback: Pre-peeled oranges in a box – Luca Sartoni

  8. Shop at Trader Joes. I work there, and if anyone came up to me and told me they had a disability and couldn’t peel their oranges I would put some gloves on and peel a whole bag for them. And I’m confident most crew members there would.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In terms of equality of access it is A.) mnot fair to ask disabled people to go through an extra step when an alternative that allows them just to collect what they need. B.) the I’m nice I’ll do it for you and I’m sure others will as well, just doesn’t tend to play out that way in real life. Store staff are busy and unless it’s their job to prepare food for customers. Besides then you have to identify and very likely justify your disability which is dehumanizing and may just result in skepticism from the staff member you ask

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    • Considering that is argument is about both access and the environment this would be a great opportunity to look into more accessible packaging that is also more eco friendly. Ultimately though it is true that nothing is ever universally accessible to disabled people but that really shouldn’t be used to diminish access where it can be increased.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m guessing there are some people who would be OK with jabbing at the container with a knife or scissors to get it open, since that doesn’t require much strength, or the fine control that is needed for cutting orange peel, or for you to put the knife blade close to your hand. It’s certainly not ideal, but it’d work for some. At this stage, though, I think the argument is more about having the right to access food that has been preprepared in a way that makes it more accessible. Once the supermarkets start engaging with us over that, then we can get them to work on the packaging too.

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  9. I am ashamed to admit I did not think of this angle when I heard of the pre-peeled oranges. I didn’t know about the fight on Twitter, but when I saw them, my first thought was “typical Whole Foods,” and didn’t realize the difference it would make for people with limited dexterity. I was wrong. Thank you for this post and for making me aware of the issue.

    Liked by 3 people

    • It didn’t occur to me either and I am ashamed to admit that my husband suffered with rheumatoid arthritis for 20 years and I didn’t think of it. (Mostly cause he wasn’t a fan of fresh fruits and veggies. He could handle washing strawberries and peeling bananas which were mostly all he would eat). But having seen him reach a point near the end where he couldn’t drive because he couldn’t close his hand, I can easily see where he would not have been able to peel an orange. I agree, though, that a plastic box may not be as good as a bag in such cases.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. wow my mom is disabled and could really benefit from a product like this yet i never even thought about it from this perspective. If they would just make the packaging 100% recycled there really wouldn’t be a problem with it! thank you for writing this it was really eye opening!

    Like

    • Recycling isn’t a perfect solution. Waste is generated by running the machinery, and due to human error (and laziness), many things recycled by consumers don’t actually ever get recycled, whether because of the dirt on the container, mislabeling, or pick-up men throwing everything with regular garbage.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t disagree with you but the reality is disabled live in this world and we deserve access to good fresh food and don’t deserve to be either thrown under the bus or forcefully relegated to a dependent role while people figure out how to meld access and the environment, the complete lack of understanding and compromise here from the purely environmental lobby to the point of further marginalizing disabled people is truly disheartening

        Liked by 2 people

  11. It’s good to read your detailed post! 🙂

    Physically, I can manage to cut and use my veggies, but whenever depression an fatigue (from physical disability) kick in too hard, I am so greatful for the pre-packaged salad, ready meals, smoothies and the like. They allow me to get some good regular meals into my body, which is a necessity to get back on track.

    I’d much rather not be using all that packaging, and before illness I wouldn’t have.

    But like I said, now it seems the best thing ever for me

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  12. Is there really no middle ground? stores can have subscription based services for peeled and prepared food, to offset the cost of over or under stocking and reduce the waste at the same time. It will also assure customer loyalty. In the world of weight control food delivery services it is not hard for me to envision that.

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    • Or only stocking a small quantity at a time and having someone monitor stock and have more prepared when it gets low. This should really be applied to all instore prepared produce. Just make sure that actually monitoring and restocking is a priority

      Liked by 1 person

    • Or even taking the produce that is still edible but headed for the bins because it isn’t “pretty” and using *that* for pre-cuts. The grocery stores around here have a lot of pre-cut fruit salads and the like and I’m sure much of it comes from things that would have gone to waste otherwise. (This doesn’t mean those who are disabled are getting bad food–just food that maybe doesn’t look as good in its whole form).

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I didn’t even think of how environmentalism was often inaccessible for disabled people until I read your article. Thank you.

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  14. Pingback: Peeling Oranges: Disability | foodcommittee

  15. Hi crippledscholar, I stumbled here from a facebook share.

    This question clearly doesn’t extend to the rest of food-kind, and I don’t want to say that all citrus is the same, but have you ever tried Satsumas ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citrus_unshiu )? I’m thinking about them as accessible citrus vs the accessibility of the mentioned packaging. I don’t even have limited dexterity and I hate peeling oranges because it’s a nightmare that leaves my hands sticky and juice probably on the floor. I’ve found that often satsuma peel is so loosely connected to the inside that it nearly falls off on its own. For me at least it seems like it would be even easier than opening the shown packaging.

    (Obviously the moment someone says “hey, this thing helps me” or “hey, that thing hurts me” it’s the time to rethink. My general impression of twitter is that it’s stocked with…not very thinkful people.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • that is true for some people who may be able to manage that but you’ll likely find more people with limited dexterity who can’t open even oranges like satsumas, mandarins or clementines. But they may be an option for some. Though they are often seasonal in a way that say a navel orange is not

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      • Navel oranges and satsumas are both seasonal. In fact, their seasons are pretty much the same as each other.

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      • I had the same thought as commented above. And as commented below, all oranges are seasonal, but the difficult-to-peel ones store better than the others (exactly because their peel is tougher) so you see them out of season. So if you want your citrus out of season, you have a peel problem. (I grew up in an orange grove — the ones destined for the juice factory are truly impossible to peel, even with young strong hands.).

        One thing you might try (and I do not mean to imply that this will necessarily work for you, only that it might, maybe this would be a useful option if you didn’t already know about it) is a plastic citrus peeler. It used to be a Tupperware-party-only thing, but now they sell them on Amazon. Might not work, and maybe you’ve heard it already, but at least it won’t cut you like a knife. Also not bad as a low-end pry tool for other things, like tenacious zip-loc bags.

        And apologies for not thinking of the disabled access angle the first time I saw this. I hope to live long enough to have such problems myself.

        By-the-way, speaking of growing up in citrus land, the mechanical orange peelers even decades ago were wondrous things. There was one, mechanism protected by trade secret, not even patent, but its existence was known, could take apart an orange peel into its separate layers — some for medicine, some for the citrus oils, some for cattle feed. So before anyone gets too wound up about waste, think of the waste of not recycling your orange peel that efficiently.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes this works for me, but the sharper citrus fruits give me a headache, and the ones with thin, firmly-attached peel are even worse than oranges for getting the peel off. Satsumas are hard to find, it’s more often other small citrus fruit.

      It’s also a really obvious solution that we have thought of, you know. If disabled people are saying we can’t do something, we have thought our way through it and know what we’re talking about.

      Like

  16. Pingback: Our Vantage Point « Be Nice

  17. I read about half of your post and really enjoyed it, but I could not finish it because your theme is very hard to read. You might want to think about changing it to a lighter background with dark text, or maybe get a wordpress theme toggler so that people can change it back and forth? I know some people prefer a dark background and light text but it is almost unreadable to me.

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  18. Thank you for your post.
    I more often than not I can not eat healthy due to hand ability, or fatigue, and when both come at the same time, something frozen goes in the oven, or dinner is a bowl of cereal, again. A pre-peeled orange would be a treat. Now with others pointing their laziness finger I’ll never get that opportunity.
    I appreciate your voice!

    Like

  19. Pingback: When Accessibility gets Labeled Wasteful | The WordPress C(h)ronicle

  20. I read an absolutely horrible comment on a Facebook article that I reported to Facebook but they’ll do nothing about it. It was extremely ableist.

    “If you can’t peel your own orange then your life isn’t worth living anymore and you should just end it.”

    I wanted to take my cane and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

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  21. Thank you for having the courage to speak up. My mother loved to cook and experiment with recipes. I remember our conversation several years into her rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis when prepping vegetables had just become impossible. It was so important to her sense of self to be able to continue to prepare her own meals when she had lost so much and was experiencing so much pain. This is the reason we need to listen to a broad spectrum of voices and perspectives.

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  22. that was so interesting, thank you for sharing your perspective.

    Now, might you change your blog to more assess-able colours, I am seeing bands and actually feeling kinda ill because of the white type on black. It is quite painful for me to try to read pages that are set up like this, and normally i just move on. But your content is great!

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    • Hi Kerry, I actually chose this colour scheme for accessibility reasons, though I understand that accessibility isn’t a one size fits all situation. I am looking into getting an adapter plugin for the site but haven’t figured it out yet. I’ve been cross posting my more recent stuff on Medium which has a different colour scheme which you might find more accessible until I can get things so people can hopefully choose their own colour settings. Here’s the link to this piece on Medium
      View at Medium.com

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      • I wonder if there are any sites which list all the known ways to adapt colour schemes in your browser, so that at least you could link to that in your sidebar? No Squint and Color That Site add-ons are good for Firefox, for instance. Chrome has a built-in version but it’s poor. I don’t think I’ve found anything for Android browsers yet, but I use the Bluelight Filter to reduce glare overall on my Android devices.

        I’m mildly visually impaired due to having severe ME/CFS, and I’m doing well with your layout and colour scheme, for what it’s worth. It’s one of the best I’ve found. I’ve been reading your site in Chrome on a 7″ Android tablet so far. Some people need high contrast, some need low contrast, and there’s no setting that will work for both groups, but you are definitely doing well in terms of minimising glare, I think.

        The one thing I’m having trouble with is that the text box shows much smaller text than the article and comments already up. It’s be much beterr if the text size were the same throughout. Is that something within your control?

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      • In case it helps: there’s a browser plugin called Clearly from Evernote, it takes the text from the page and makes it more readable – font, colours, and size. I don’t know if it exists for mobile, but you could also send the article to an app like Pocket and read it there.

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  23. Thank you so much for this! The laziness thing dogged me for years when I would take elevators instead of climbing stairs, because I didn’t have a diagnosis yet.

    As I need to use more and more precut food, I guess I should be expecting more of this shaming.

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      • No, I have a mitochondrial disease, and I turn out to be one of the folks for whom mild exercise can be quite damaging. I even did a trial of vibration therapy which helped some of the participants but left me permanently worse. Heart is an ongoing concern, on top of daily limitations.

        There are some surface similarities with some ME patients,though, as well as with MS and a few other conditions.

        Liked by 1 person

  24. I just…ugh.

    This is why I don’t call myself an environmentalist. I don’t want to be lumped in with the eco-ableists like Ashley and Ssss. :/

    Like

  25. Pingback: Eating and Reading in March | MetaCookbook

  26. Pingback: Disability vs accessibility | Identities

  27. Thank you for this article. I never thought about pre-cut or otherwise prepared fresh food in this way but I will from now on.

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  28. I tried to look through the comments but couldn’t see if anyone mentioned that these were satsuma mandarins – the easiest to peel of any type of orange. The peels practically fall off themselves if you snip the edge. The plastic is actually harder to open than the peel.

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  29. I like to think I’m relatively liberal and ally-ish, but I did agree with the environmentalist arguments without considering the disability aspects before reading your article. Thank you for writing – it’s made me painfully aware of a whole other viewpoint that I shamefully forgot to consider.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. If we can make drink cups from corn we can make containers for food from it. Compostable, biodegradable, no BPA risk. Win win. Everyone deserves access to healthy food.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. If WF wants to peel oranges and sell them, they should. If it helps anyone, then it’s a good thing. But I do think that there are so many alternatives to that packaging.

    The laziness argument means literally nothing in our fast food world. I just believe that we can offer accessibility without sacrificing ecological principles. But the burden of that is on the merchant. Either Whole Foods markets themselves as environmentally conscious or they ARE environmentally conscious.

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  32. Plastic does not help anyone. Plastic is made from petroleum And is a part of our addiction to oil. To get oil to turn into plastic you have to add many, many toxins. Food really should not be packaged in plastic since it leeches chemicals and causes cancer and infertility. Environmentalist are not enemy of disabled ppl, that would be GOP. Most ppl are not aware of the toxicity of plastic thus, is hard thing to fight this losing battle. This a small win, let’s hope more but probably not. Plastic is suspiciously cheap, like gas for our car causing people not look for alternatives.

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  33. I think my first issue with the original article is why society seems to spend most of its time looking for things to be snarky about instead of being better people because it is less entertaining. It is really easy to take one piece of information and call someone “lazy” or “entitled”, but it is harder to actually hear the whole story and do the same. Especially if you are doing it face to cafe rather than anonymously. Sure, Whole Foods may not be doing this for the same reasons that people may want them to, but it turns out that the fact that they did is helpful to some folks. And that fact is then used for yet another dose of courageless remarks. It just shows how the society does not automatically care for its members unless the members of society choose to make it happen. Maybe let the store owners know that this is a potential new market for this product, ask them to make sure the packaging is recyclable or compostable, and rejoice that some people see an improvement in their lives.

    Makes more sense to me, because I didn’t really think the first joke was funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Pingback: Pre-Peeled Oranges: What Some Call ‘Lazy’ Others Call A ‘Lifesaver’ | EikAwaz.com

  35. Pingback: Pre-Peeled Oranges: What Some Call 'Lazy' Others Call A 'Lifesaver' - Todays NewspapersTodays Newspapers

  36. Pingback: Dissecting Ableist Bias in Environmentalist Thinking | everyday environmentalism

  37. Great post, was very interesting and enlightening for me. I hope you don’t mind, I’ve written something of a reply to this for my blog, because it gave me so much to think about. I’m posting a link to your post in mine, please let me know if you take issue with anything in my post/the post at large. Here’s a link to what I’ve written. I’m a newbie blogger, so please excuse me if I’ve caused any offense. I really enjoyed reading your post here and I would appreciate any feedback you might have. Thanks very much!

    (my post here) https://everydayenvironmentalismblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/dissecting-ableist-bias-in-environmentalist-thinking/

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  38. Pingback: Pre-Peeled Oranges: What Some Call ‘Lazy’ Others Call A ‘Lifesaver’

  39. I’m of mixed minds on this.

    Honestly, the packaging itself is wasteful, and for someone who only has the use of a single hand like stroke patients, it really isn’t that much easier, because trying to open a clamshell with a single hand is NOT an easy task (although it *is* easier than trying to peel an orange). As someone who *has* only had the use of one hand in the past (and who wanted to kill the person who gifted me with a box of tangellos in the hospital when I only had the use of one hand at the time, hospital food sucks and those tangellos were just taunting me), while I see *some* point to this for *some* disabled, it is a complete waste of plastic, leads to more food spoilage and more waste, and still doesn’t help a lot of the disabled out there. If you are someone without much hand strength or with arthritis, or who is allergic to orange oil (which is only in the skin, not the pulp of the fruit), it might be somewhat helpful, but if you’re someone with only one hand to use, it still doesn’t help, you’re more likely to crush the package than to actually get into it to get the orange (thereby squishing the orange and getting juice everywhere).

    A much better way to deal with it (in my opinion) would be to do something similar to string cheese, a vacuum sealed plastic packaging with tabs that can be peeled open. If you’re single-handed, you stick one tab in your teeth and pull with the working hand (because no matter how you slice it, single handed is NOT going to work out well with this, but having those softer plastic tabs is going to be much easier on the teeth than a clamshell that you may crush in the process of trying to open it against something else.

    Not only does this make it easier for someone with only a single hand to use, but it wastes *SIGNIFICANTLY* less plastic, and has significantly less of a spoilage factor, a win-win for most people, disabled or otherwise.

    I *dont* think it’s really about accessibility, because it only really benefits a small portion of the disabled population that would need it to begin with. However, it does bring up the idea of accessibility to begin with, and just how difficult it is for the average person with a disability to be able to do many things without assistance. Prior to being in a walker and a wheelchair temporarily, I hadn’t really thought about ADA accessibility and how much the majority of places out there really *weren’t* accessible (this was more than 20 years ago when I first needed the walker. Let me tell you, there is nothing more humiliating than trying to go into a restaurant, and having the slope of the “accessibility ramp” be so steeply pitched that you have to have your parents put both sets of hands on your ass and SHOVE you up the ramp, because otherwise you can’t get up it). Up until this came out, a lot of people didn’t think about just how difficult it is for many people with disabilities to do simple things such as EAT. There is special cutlery, special packaging, and all of it is expensive and makes it look like it’s designed for lazy people, but much of it is *very* necessary.

    I can’t say I completely agree with the article, because it really *doesn’t* help that many disabled people, clamshells suck almost as badly as peels if you’re only one-handed. It does, however, bring up a very good point on just how much the able-bodied don’t really realize how much they take for granted when it comes to things they do each and every day.

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    • The thing is that nothing is ever going to be universally accessible to all disabled people and the idea of trying to decide where the threshold of how many disabled people is enough for them to be accommodated is not going to be useful. I am aware that this packaging offers its own barriers for some people and am all for looking for both more accessible and more sustainable ways to package food. Look at it as the bigger picture of trying to increase access to things in as many ways as possible.

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  40. Pingback: Here’s why Whole Foods pre-peeled oranges might not be as insane as they sound | Grist

  41. Pingback: The side to the Whole Foods peeled oranges conversation you didn’t see. | PintVerse

  42. The VERY FIRST thing I thought of when I saw those oranges was, “wow, that would be awesome.” Not because of my chronic pain issues, but because I’m horrendously allergic to oranges, and that means my kids couldn’t eat them for years, because peeling them is impossible for me (it likely would be anyway, because of the pain and mobility issues, but the hives are the biggest obstacle). So they just had to wait until they were old enough to be able to peel their own oranges, because I can’t touch them at all.

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  43. THANK YOU for your thoughtful answers to this. As a mom to a 12 year old with limited hand and arm use/strength (bilateral brachial plexopathy) who 1. could never dream of peeling an orange independently and 2. would not in a hundred years ask someone in a shop to do it for her, I’m always keen to find ways for her to become independent from me while “fitting in”. Food preparation is HUGE issue—many adaptive devices are expensive, never mind hard to tote around with you as you live the life of a 7th grader. I have often wanted to send something other than the same boring lunch with her to school, but constantly having to assess whether a particular bottle or box or container—or fruit—is possible for her to use/eat on her own can be a job. Also, although her school does not have metal detectors as some do, I bet her adapted rocker knife would give the staff pause if they saw it. Anyhow, thank you for speaking up. I intend to show your blog to her. I think she’ll find it encouraging.

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