June 8, 2009
by Rachel Horvath
After being diagnosed with multiple food allergies a few years ago, I find myself doing a lot more of my grocery shopping in health-food stores these days than in the past. Thankfully, it is also a far more enjoyable experience than in the past, as health-food stores have come a long way from the no-frills bulk bin storage rooms I remember from my childhood days—now offering all the consumer bells and whistles one expects to find at mainstream grocery outlets. Similarly, the packaging of health-food products has also evolved exponentially. So while there will always be a place at health-food stores for the generic utilitarian plastic bags of grains, dried fruits and organic coffee on the shelves, today you are just as likely to encounter a multitude of gourmet-quality organic and all-natural foods retailing in highly attractive and fashionable packaging.
Storage has long been the Achilles Heel of health-food products in terms of gaining more widespread consumer acceptance. Because they were traditionally packed mostly in those aforementioned plastic bags and sealed with nothing more than a simple twist-tie, each trip home would inevitably be followed by a time-consuming chore of transferring the purchases into Tupperware containers, reusable canisters, mason jars, etc., to maximize the products’ shelf-life and to store them in orderly fashion. Mercifully, it’s becoming a less frequent task thanks to products like the Sabarot brand dried-beans selection from the French company Sabarot Wassner. Being one of the longest-enduring health-food staples around—always perfect to have on hand for whipping up tasty soups, stews and dips—this product is finally getting the proper respect it deserves with the sturdy 500-gram cardboard box, with a perforated pouring slot on top of the carton’s side panel. With its size and shape perfectly fitting into my kitchen cupboard—where it can sit for months without the beans accidentally spilling out all over the place—this package also offers a great value-added feature in form of a handy chart on the back that is essentially a “cheat sheet” with proper cooking instruction for just about any type of bean out there, saving the trouble of referencing a cookbook each time beans happen to be on the menu.
Having recently discovered the joy of sea salt at our household, we’ve been buying different versions of this natural high-mineral food enhancer from all over the world—trying them out in all sorts of different recipes and keeping the sea salt mill on our dinner table very busy indeed. But when storage once again became a problem—usually a result of flimsy packaging and the inevitable spills caused by the little bags getting ripped upon the slightest accidental contact—I was absolutely thrilled to discover the highly durable, clear 45-gram stand-up plastic pouch of Redmond RealSalt’s Gourmet Sea Salt Coarse Grind outfitted with a no-nonsense, built-in pouring spout that virtually guarantees a spill-free transfer of salt rocks right into the mill. Moreover, the upright, streamlined design of the pouch makes it highly visible in the cupboard drawer—making it less likely to be pushed back and forgotten—while the high-quality, airtight construction of the pouch completely inhibits any serious moisture penetration, eliminating the risk of salt crystals binding themselves into one giant block that eventually needs to be chiseled back down to proper size.